Hardy hibiscus season...!

woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)August 8, 2010

I love hardy hibiscuses - fabulous flowers for late summer. The 'oldies but goodies' Disco Belle ones are the favorites in my garden, particularly since they're the only ones which are old enough to have significantly bulked up! I'd really like more of the dark red ones. I've tried several over the years without a lot of success. Pinot Noir did not come back. Luna Red has come back for a couple of years but is still very wimpy. Fireball has fabulous flowers and I like the foliage too. This is it's third summer and I still only have one main stem and about 2 spindly stems in each location. Lord Baltimore, and older variety, is doing a bit better but still has only a few stems - and tends to flop because I never remember to pinch it! What success have you had with newer varieties? How long has it taken for them to bulk up - if they have! Show me pictures of your favorites...?

Disco Belle this morning:

Fireball this morning - it's actually a darker red than it shows in this picture:

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Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

Wow how pretty! I have a small first year peppermint scnapps hibiscus. It is alredy 4 ft tall but 1 main branch. I do like it but it needs moved. It grew past my adonis blue butterfly bush! lol
How long do they bloom for you? i didnt know to pinch it, maybe when i move it ill remember.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 2:06PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

lilyfinch - the pale pink ones started blooming a week-10 days ago and will bloom for another couple of weeks. A dark pink seedling of it blooms into late September. The Luna Reds I have also bloom into late September. I can't remember how long the Lord Baltimores and the Fireballs bloomed last year!

I'd really be interested in hearing other people's experiences and recommendations for dark red ones. I really want to add more of those, preferably ones that will bloom late and not need much pinching - and also bulk up well. I never pinch the pink ones at all - and I like that! The big clump is probably around 8 years old. The seedlings of it take at least 4 years before they make a decent clump.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 4:36PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Woodyoak, I'm glad you mentioned Lord Baltimore. I could never remember the name of mine, but I do think that is the one. I have never pinched any hibiscus and didn't know to pinch them. What does the pinching do? What is the technique? Here is my (what I believe to be) Lord Baltimore. It does incredibly well. Tends to want to lean just a bit down the hill, but I just tie it back to the fence.

This is another one I have but it is only just coming into its own this year. It has taken at least 4 years to bulk up a bit. The Lord Baltimore got large quite quickly. I don't know the name of this one.

I really like that Disco Belle. Very pretty and showy!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 6:50PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

thyme - pinching them is supposed to make them shorter and bushier with more flowers. But Disco Belle has never needed it. I think the Lord Baltimore and probably the Fireball would benefit from it - but I never remember to try it!

I definitely like that red one of yours. It looks like a darker, cooler red than my Lord Baltimores, but red is one of those colors that doesn't photograph 'true', so it's hard to tell. The 'Fireball' picture I posted is definitely not 'true' to what you see when you look at it.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 8:40PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Hi Woody, love your Disco Belle, it's so bushy and full of flowers! That Fireball is eyecatching too. Have you had it long? I added 'Kopper King' last fall because the foliage was so gorgeous so this was the first season for it. I also moved a Plum Crazy to a new location and pinched that one back and it was better this year than last. Right now, I'm crazy about the 'Kopper King' and hope it will have more flowers next year. They stay upright, they're large and the foliage is really nice. The bloom didn't last that long though, maybe 10 days.

Very pretty Lord Baltimore too, thyme2!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 5:10PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

PM2 - I cdidn't realize Kopper King had light flowers... I planted Fireball two summers ago I think, so I'm disappointed that I seem to have only one strong stem in both locations where I have one. And they seem to be doling out the flowers one at a time! But they sure are eye-catching when they open:

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 7:21PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Wow, that red flower just jumps right out at you! I had two stems for two years on my Plum Crazy. I moved it into more sun and pinched the whole thing back this year and it was much better. The flowers are smaller though. I think your Disco Bell has the best shape and is such a bloom machine. Is that echinacea in the right foreground? It looks pink, is it? Very bushy, too!

We've had so little rain, nothing is looking all that great this year. Only 10 inches of rain since March when we usually have 20 inches. I've been watering like crazy but the tree roots are just sucking it up.

I want to try to take a cutting from the 'Kopper King' and add another one. I didn't allow any seed to develop this year. I don't imagine they would come true to see any way.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 9:13PM
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dawiff(z7 WA)

Thanks for all the pictures of the hardy hibiscus! It's one of my favorite late summer flowers. I've gone to at least 7 nurseries in the area looking for them. No one seems to know what I mean, it's so annoying. No, not rose of sharon. No, not confederate rose. There's a hardy hibiscus with big flowers? We never heard of that. I'm so sick of all the nursery workers looking at me like I'm crazy.

I tried growing from seed this past winter, but none of my seeds sprouted, possibly they were too old. Ah well maybe I'll try again.

Does anyone know a good online nursery where I can get hardy hibiscus, that won't charge me a small fortune in shipping? I'd love to get one or more of the dark-leaved ones, like Kopper King or Fireball.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 1:30AM
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dawiff - I have ordered hibiscus from both Cottage Farms and Springhill and had luck with both. I got a 'grabbag' from SH a few years back. 10 for $10 or something like that. Didn't think any of them took. A few years later, there they are, blooming beautifully. Not all of them grew, but at least half. (All white with red centers)

This year I ordered a Lady Baltimore from SH. I've been surprised at how big it has gotten for the first year. I've gotten a lot of flowers from it.

Sometimes those places are hit or miss, but I have to say, they've both been excellent at replacing anything that hasn't done well. :-)

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 1:51AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

PM2 - rainfall has been very erratic this year here. We've had 16" to the end of July. April and May were very dry but we had 7" in June and 4" in July. The rain seems to come in large doses - 1"+ and then days or weeks with nothing, then another big downpour. We got a bit (~1/3") of rain last night after nothing since July 27.

Yes, that's a purple coneflower in the right foreground of the picture... I'm not sure why they are called 'purple' because they always look pink to me! It's not obvious in that picture but the whole front bed is loaded with purple coneflowers because they seed around so much. I need to dig out a lot of them! (and do a better job of deadheading :-)

The pink Disco Belles come true from seed bout 75% of the time. There are three other patches of them started from seedlings - you can see one of them just to the right of the wisteria tree. There's another on the other side of the wisteria and one in the main bed behind where the original clump is in the driveway border. One that did not come true is a large-flowered deep pink one that blooms very late. It is just inside the arbour. The good thing about hardy hibiscus seedlings is that they bloom in their first year. So you can start them from seed, grow them in a pot the first summer until you can see what color they are, then if the color is 'right' or at least one you want to keep, plant it out in the appropriate spot in the ground. I usually deadhead the seedpods to prevent random seeding.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 10:16AM
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Dawiff, have you checked a Walmart Super Center for hardy hibiscus? That's where I buy all of my Hibiscus every Spring, WM has a good flower center now, but don't plan on asking the workers for help. :)

Okay, I'm stumped. I've always planted Hibiscus each Spring and they'd thrive, full of blooms ALL summer, all different colors. (all bought from WM, $10) But they weren't hardy.

This year I bought a pink one from WM which was labeled as a "Hardy Hibiscus." But it didn't say what color it was.

This Hardy Hibiscus has only had maybe one bloom at a time all summer, until now. Now it's starting to put off several blooms a day.

So, am I correct in that Hardy Hibiscus really starts blooming now instead of early summer like my previous annual Hibiscus?

I've been told that they do need to be cut back to about a foot each Spring.

And should they be deadheaded? My blooms only last a day, that's normal, right? lol

Here's a picture of the one I planted this Spring.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 11:49AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

oakleyok - hardy hibiscuses are perennials that bloom in late summer. My early ones start blooming in mid-late July and the later ones haven't started yet... They should be along in 7-10 days or so and some will bloom into early October. Each flower only lasts a day, maybe two if you're lucky, but there are lots of buds and they bloom over a few weeks. I just pull th faded flower loose and drop it into the bed :-) As the seedpods start to mature, I cut those off and dispose of them to prevent seeding around.

They are VERY late to 'wake up' in spring! Mine don't usually make an appearance until the first week of June. Because they are so late to start, you need a reminder of where they are so you don't accidentally dig them up. I cut them down in the fall but leave about 6" of the stems. That's enough to show me where they are without being unsightly in the garden.

The hardy hibiscus are usually much showier than the annual ones so are great additions to the late summer garden. Keep your annual ones for the early summer but you'll love the show from the hardy ones, especially once they get established and bulk up - which takes a few years

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 12:32PM
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So I'm thinking Walmart labeled the plant right and mine is a hardy Hibiscus afterall. I noticed this morning it has a ton of buds on it. I was complaining to my dh about a month ago how disappointed I was because it was hardly putting off blooms. lol.

I'm going to wait until Spring to trim mine back. It's in a north flowerbed which gets lots of sun in the summer, but total shade in the winter and sometimes a solid sheet of ice where it's planted. This way the old part will help protect the roots.

Can't wait until mine puts on a show!

Next year I may order some online so I can get a different color besides red and pink.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 2:49PM
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Oakley, that's not a hardy hibiscus. Hardy hibiscus is swamp rose mallow, or "hibiscus moscheutos." What you have is a tropical hibiscus. Wal-Mart probably mislabeled them. I don't know if it will survive the winter in your area. It will if you have warmer winters, but frost kills them. You can pot it up and move it inside for the winter if you fins out they are not hardy in your zone. It's pretty, though!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 6:52PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

oakleyok - shropshire lad is right - the one in your picture is an annual/tropical shrub. I misinterpreted your post - I assumed that you were posting a picture of your annual ones, not that you thought tht that one was the hardy one....

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 7:58PM
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Well darn. How ironic that Walmart sells such nice and healthy flowers but the idiots who grow them can't label them right! lol.

Oh well, that's okay because I planted it in a bad spot anyway if it were to come back every year.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 10:35PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

But you should go looking for a real hardy hibiscus! They are wonderful plants.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 10:50PM
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I'm enjoying my 3rd year with this Kopper King. Our constant rain has really been tough for a lot of plants; but this one is happy.
The blooms are also more pink than before. They were more white (like prairie moon's photo). Anyone know why that would be?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 12:41AM
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So many hibiscus...I am loving this post!

My Kopper King looks like it will have it's first blooms open tomorrow and I can't wait! My 3 Lord Baltimores are planted next to it and they are by far the hardiest of my hibiscus, they've been blooming for nearly 2 weeks now! Plum Crazy has put out 2 flowers so far. I'm not very impressed with it. It doesn't flower much and the blooms are not radiant.

I've got some Southern Belles that the Japanese Beetles are devouring. They also suffer from yellowing leaves. Hibiscus is supposed to be a water-lover, but the yellowing gets worse with a good watering or downpour. Leave them dry, and the foliage looks crumpled and sad. Any ideas why?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 1:09AM
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Oakley - it looks like you don't have mulch in your bed. That is something that will really help your plants during the hot, hot summers and also help protect over your harsh winters. Not sure what is popular in your area, we're partial to pinestraw here in the south.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 4:34PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

OK, now I'm going to be on a quest for a new Kopper King. The pictures you guys have posted of it are reaffirming that I have to try this one again. I lost the last one mainly to my terrible placement of it. It probably didn't have a chance. Lost a Plum Crazy too, again right plant, wrong place. You'd think I'd learn by now. Do any of you have a photo of Plum Crazy?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 9:05PM
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I'll post a pic of Plum Crazy as soon as the next bloom opens. Maybe tomorrow.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 11:42PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Honnat, I was just looking at the last flower on my Kopper King and it has a mildly pink shade to the white today. I was thinking that the sprinkler was on the bed and not sure if the flower was open or still in bud, but maybe it is the red running into the white due to rain or the sprinkler?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 9:13AM
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