Confederate Rose/Hibiscus mutabilis

Tarzan57June 22, 2013

Hello to y'all. I bought a very small Confederate Rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) plant about five years ago on eBay and planted in my yard. For whatever reason, up until this year it usually didn't come up until mid-summer. This year, with our increasingly milder winters, it came up in early May. I was so hopeful that it might actually get large enough to actually produce a flower before frost this year. Alas, my hopes were dashed when my son mowed it off to the ground this week even though it was two feet tall and he'd been showed it's location no less than three times in the past few weeks. Aargh!!!

I'd been so looking forward to seeing this thing bloom after seeing giant specimens on Sullivan's Island, SC year ago and finding out that a person about a mile away from me actually up on the side of Bays Mountain here in Kingsport, TN has had a huge specimen plant in a less than sheltered location beside of their house. We're in I think what's been revised to USDA Zone 6B if not 7A and this particular plant doesn't have to come up from the ground each year.

Garden centers in this area are few and far between although one local family chain is exceptional but none of them have heard of this plant nor do they have a source for them. My question is if anyone has any of these beautiful plants and would be willing to part with a couple of 1' cuttings that I'll attempt to root in exchange for either cuttings of the best Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon) variety, "Diana" that was developed by the USDA or for seeds of the little hibiscus relative which is a form of a dwarf ornamental okra from India called Abelmoschus moschatus 'Red' that I've been growing for many years.

H. syriacus 'Diana' is great in that it has perfectly flat white flowers almost 4" diameter in great abundance all the way until frost and doesn't produce seeds. The flowers' shape is more like a tropical variety as the petals overlap somewhat and the plants themselves develop into a large rounded form as they age. The flowers are never tubular shaped like most of the old varieties and open fully on cloudy days.

I've enjoyed both of those I'd be willing to trade for so many years and take it for granted that most people have never seen either of them. If anyone's interested in a trade or just plain old charity with a cutting or two of their Confederate Rose, I'd really like to hear from you soon. Thanks for having the patience to read my novella! I'm not sure if I've got my settings as they should be as it's been so many years since I've been on here but I can also be contacted at maui4me 'at' besides responding directly through this forum. I'd really like to have a Confederate Rose flower for me before frost this year!

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Confederate Rose usually doesn't bloom past zone 7. I had one in zone 7 in SC, and it bloomed in the fall, but never set seeds because it would get caught by the frost. I'm thinking that with the changing of the zones, you used to be a zone 5? Unless you are 6B/7a, not much chance of it ever blooming. It is actually zoned for 8-10, with that 8 being what was my 7 in SC. Sorry for the bad news. I've just never seen one bloom in your zone.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 2:16PM
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I live in Northeast TN only about two miles from the VA state line and the one I mentioned in my original post flowers every year since I first ran across it five or so years ago. This particular plant must be flowering from old growth as it's at least six feet tall and wide and appears quite woody.

I've found that in recent years, we're able to grow many things here that would've never been possible even twenty years ago and have them survive the winter. I had a large grouping of the common elephant ears Colocasia esculenta that I forgot to dig up two years ago that survived even without a mulch and were gigantic by last Autumn. I did put a layer of gingko leaves on them this past winter and the plants are almost five feet tall already. Colocasia gigantea has also proven quite hardy here for at least ten years so far. I've had two species of Crinums in the ground without ever mulching them for over twenty years and they only get bigger and better each year. There's windmill palms that have growing here unprotected for at least ten years and some of them have trunks almost six feet tall. I'm beginning to believe global warming may be more than a theory. According to the revised USDA Zone Map from 2012 we are now in 6B/7A. Ten years ago we were listed as 5B/6A.

Here is a link that might be useful: 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 5:47PM
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They just issued the new map I think last year or year before. Actually, they've known the temps were rising since the Bush administration, but he squashed the issue of the new map because it proved global warming was real, which he said wasn't. We used to be 9b, now we are 10a. The border for 9b/10a used to be about 40 miles south of here.

I have a beautiful Confederate Rose that I can't put in the ground right now because I am renting. It's not really happy in its big pot, but I can't do anything about it. It originally came from seeds someone smuggled into the U.S. from Hawaii, and died once, but I had a cutting so I grew another one. I am babying it like mad this year and will hopefully have seeds in the winter. I'd be happy to send you some. It is one that opens pink and stays pink.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 9:29PM
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Here in Texas they can get very large trunks as well as quite tall if they are not cut back each year when a freeze does not knock them back to the ground. I have had mine bloom in early spring one year but that was because of our weather change that year. Global warming is not what is happening but global change which no human has been able to stop for over 5,000 years. Cutting start easier if left in just water for many months. So for you in your area it would be find if you placed them inside during your cold weather. I stuck a couple in a plastic gallon milk container in the shade from spring until fall here and the roots looked like a good rag I mop. I even stuck branches I pruned off my very large tree and used them as tomato trees. They had been lying on the ground for over a week but 3 still sprouted and bloomed the fall. The problem with shipping is the cost. The last ones I shipped cost me for the tube and general delivery was an added $10 so I do not do this very often as my budget would scream at me. So your best bet would be to find anyone near you that would provide cuttings as they are very easy to start. They do love water like all hibiscus. My first cutting came from a caring in-law it was about 3 foot tall when placed in the ground. Hurricane Ike came thru and my son had to replant it but because of all the wet and cool weather it grew to over 6 foot tall and put on about 50 blooms that year.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 9:58AM
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I always stick mine in water until I can see the roots starting to grow, then stick them in soil. If you let the roots get too long, they get used to water and sometimes don't transplant well, take a long time to get used to soil. I never let my roots get over and inch long before I plant.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 12:01PM
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Sorry to hijack your thread Tarzan57. I just read the comments about starting cuttings in water and wondered if this applied to all Hibs or just Confederate Rose?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 8:18AM
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Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon) cuttings readily root in water or in dirt if the cut area is woody. I've never heard of people taking cuttings of the herbaceous hardy types as the they're usually from seeds or root divisions. The tropical Rosa-Seninsus types are grown from woody cutting but not in water and are also tissue-cultured. The Texas Star hibiscus (H. coccineus) can be grown from woody cuttings but I don't know about in water. They can be readily seed grown. The first time I ever saw one was before it flowered and I thought it was a marijuana plant because of the unique leaf shape!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 7:34PM
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I'll give you a cutting or however many you want. Confederate Rose is the star of my back garden - I have 2 - & make my heart glad when they bloom for nearly 2 months each fall !

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 10:13PM
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Mine are all in full bloom right now, too - simply stunning when a 15' CF is in full bloom!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 8:51AM
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Confederate rose hibiscus will NOT keep wood alive above ground even after a normal 7b winter. It can easily grow 5-10 feet from the roots in a zone 7 climate. I have one that grew 10 feet tall from the roots in one season. This was started from a tiny cutting from American Samoa. It bloomed best when I used to live in Staten Island, NY. It flowered from late August or September till November. Here in South Jersey it loses almost every bud to insects! Even the leaves get full of holes! My many other hibiscus are completely pest free! Weird!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 7:46PM
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Trying to reach Tarzan57. I have a Samoan strain of Hibiscus mutabilis which I have unofficially dubbed 'Samoan Princess'. It can grow up to ten feet in a season after being killed back to the roots each winter. It blooms better than Alma's Star strain, but is not as Hardy. It grows most reliably as a foundation plant. It was at its best when I lived in New York. Here in far southern New Jersey it starts blooming later and suffers the loss of most of its buds to insects.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 3:50PM
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Gratitude to palmfan for for rebooting this thread. I reread and was also grateful to wally-1936 and the others advise about rooting the cuttings. This year only 1 of my precious confederate roses came back. The other, I suspect, the main course for the pesky voles that my little kitty is finally getting the upper hand on.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 4:43PM
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I live in Alabama, 7b-ish.

My H. mutabilis always produces flowers and seed pods, but I've yet to have a ripe seed pod by the first frost. :(

I cut it down to a stump and cover it and it comes back with a vengeance every spring. This year it was a bit late coming back though, so no blooms yet. I'm a bit worried.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 4:49PM
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