The Hardy Hibiscus was bred especially to grow in colder locations than the Tropical Hibiscus. Although it started out with only pink, red and white colors, cross breeding has now led to new colors, including bright pink, plum, mauve and raspberry. Hardy Hibiscus now also vary in sizes from small to large. The Hardy Hibiscus is part of the family of plants named Hibiscus machetes, sometimes referred to as swamp mallows or rose mallows. Its relative, the Tropical Hibiscus is part of the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis family.
The most noticeable and delightful thing about the Hardy Hibiscus is not so much the colors as the size. The flowers on the Hardy Hibuscus range from a mere 3-4 inches across to a massive 12 inches, often described as dinner-plate size. The flowers on every hibiscus are short-lived with each one blossoming for only one day, but every day the plant produces more flowers for up to two or three months. The plant is also one of the last to come up in the spring, sometimes not peeking out of the soil until the month of June.
The Hardy Hibiscus is a perennial that is good to grow as far north as zones three and four on the USDA plant zone chart. It can be planted anytime between June 1 and September 1. The plant loves wet conditions. A popular variety is the Disco Belle Rosy Red hibiscus plant, which grows to be about two and one-half feet tall but has flowers that are ten inches across. They make great landscaping plants. Other Hardy Hibiscus plants grow anywhere from four to eight feet tall.
Several Hardy Hibiscus plants do grow in Florida, especially in northern parts of the state. One such plant, Confederate Rose, Hibiscus mutabilis. grows six to eight feet high in northern Florida but in the southern part of the state where there is no frost, this hibiscus plant grows to an impressive 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. The flowers are six to eight inches across. Double flowers as well as three separate colors (white, dark pink, light pink) may sometimes be spotted on one plant.
A new hybrid Hardy Hibiscus plant named Brandy Punch has been patented in the State of Florida. This plant has green and purple leaves with dark pink flowers. It is an earlier flowering variety than any of the other Hardy Hibiscus plants.
No matter where you live in the United States you can probably find a Hardy Hibiscus that can be adapted to your locale. With the impressive size of these flowers, nine to twelve inches long, if you do grow the plants you are sure to attract all kinds of onlookers.