Whenever I visit a garden in a mild region of the country I can’t help feeling jealous of the lush, tropical beauties they are able to grow year round. In many areas, including mine, freezing winter temperatures limit the use of these plants. However, a recent visit by a friend from California proved that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Being from a warm climate she was accustomed to seeing tropical hibiscus, but was astonished by the bloom size of the hibiscus that I have growing in my garden. With a certain amount of satisfaction I told her that they were not tropical, but hardy hibiscus!
Hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos) is a cold tolerant perennial that can grow in much of the northern part of the country (zones 4 – 10). During the winter the hardy hibiscus dies completely to the ground and goes dormant, but it is a vigorous grower reaching heights of 4 to 8 feet in one growing season.
Hardy hibiscus will grow in any well-drained soil, including sandy soils. To achieve an abundance of blooms plant it in a location with full, hot sun and give it plenty of moisture. Once you get hardy hibiscus established in your garden it will make multiple trunks and the flowers just get larger and larger. And as you might suspect, this aggressive grower is a heavy feeder. For continuous blooms fertilize the plant several times through the growing season.