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Show Stopping Perennial: Hardy Hibiscus

Perennial Hibiscus are one of the most spectacular plants in the late summer landscape. With gorgeous, dinner plate-sized blooms (that can frequently reach up to 10” in diameter) these plants put on a show in white, pinks, reds, and more that heralds the end of summer beautifully.

The tall stems of hardy hibiscus rise above the rest of the landscape, with many varieties reaching 4 to 6 feet in height. Newer dwarf varieties are also commonly available now, and put on just as much of a show while taking up less space in your garden. In addition to the green foliage of many varieties, some hardy hibiscus display elegant bronze-purple foliage, which is a stunning contrast to plants with light pink or brilliant red flowers.

Hardy Hibiscus is a great choice for the back of a perennial border – just make sure they have enough elbow room to reach their full size. By planting them towards the back, you’ll allow earlier perennials in front to take the focus while your hibiscus are still getting up to size.

To bring your hardy hibiscus to the point of bearing beautiful satin blooms, there are a few important tips to keep in mind. Hardy Hibiscus need full sun in order to grow to their full potential – this means at least 4 hours of hot afternoon sun. Plants that are in a location where they don’t receive enough sunlight will see fewer and smaller blooms, and will not reach anywhere near their full potential.

It is also important to keep your hibiscus well-watered, as they prefer average to moist soil. Keep an eye on it during the hot days of summer, and make sure that it gets a good, deep watering (either from you or from the rain) at least once a week.

When spring comes and many perennials are poking their heads out of the soil, many gardeners get worried when their hardy hibiscus doesn’t do the same. Rest assured this is completely normal. Perennial Hibiscus like warm days with lots of sun, and won’t begin to break dormancy until these kinds of days become more frequent. They are often one of the last perennials to begin growing in the spring, and it’s not uncommon for them to wait until early June to begin showing any signs of life. Once the plants reach 8” to 10” tall, some gardeners prefer to pinch the tips of their hibiscus – this leads to a fuller and sturdier plant in late summer.

When fall arrives and the frost comes, the foliage on Hardy Hibiscus will die with the rest of the perennials in your garden. At this time Hardy Hibiscus should be pruned to about 4” from soil level, as they re-grow from the ground each year and flower on new growth. Mulch well for the first winter or two to protect the roots, remembering to pull excess mulch away again in the spring to give new shoots some breathing room once they emerge. Follow these tips and you too can enjoy these gorgeous garden giants.

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