Huge flowers with bubblegum pink petals around a maraschino cherry center help this colorful hardy plant live up to its name.
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I’m always looking for plants that can pack a big floral punch in my garden, and I especially zero in on native species because they don’t usually require a lot of fuss to grow. Recently, I’ve been crushing on 'Candy Crush' hibiscus, a newer variety of a favorite garden perennial commonly called rose mallow. It’s a cousin of tropical hibiscus, so both plants flaunt huge, colorful blooms during the summer. However, 'Candy Crush' offers a more long-lasting way to add a touch of the tropics to cold climate landscapes because snow and ice don’t faze this hardy beauty; it will come back year after year.

The 8-inch-wide pink flowers of 'Candy Crush' are impossible to miss, grabbing the attention of passersby because of their sheer size and bright color. They’re also attractive to all kinds of pollinators like hummingbirds and bumblebees, yet they're not a favorite of deer. And unlike the smaller, less flashy flowers of plain old rose mallows, this vibrant hybrid hibiscus will produce a ton of mid-summer flowers along the length of the stem so it will look like the whole plant is covered in blooms. You can expect the floral display to last for at least two weeks and after all of the flowers have withered, they can be deadheaded to keep the plant looking tidy.

pink candy crush hibiscus flower close up
Credit: Courtesy of Walters Gardens, Inc.

Growing to roughly five feet tall and about as wide, 'Candy Crush' hibiscus is hardy all the way to USDA Zone 4. It is capable of surviving temperatures well below zero, but it also takes summer heat and humidity well, provided it gets plenty of water. If these moisture-loving plants dry out, you’ll potentially lose the current season’s blooms. Water them frequently and spread a layer of mulch along the base of the plants to help keep their roots cool and moist. They’ll flower best in full sun to light shade and rich, well-drained soil.

candy crush hibiscus shrub with pink flowers in bloom
Credit: Courtesy of Walters Gardens, Inc.

Because of its size, 'Candy Crush' will fit best along a border behind smaller neighboring perennials, but it’s equally at home in a large pot on a deck or patio where it can be viewed from multiple perspectives. Hardy hibiscuses usually take a bit longer than most other perennials to wake up after dying back to the ground in winter, so you may want to surround it with early-flowering annuals and perennials like snapdragons or delphiniums. This will help provide some color until early summer when your hibiscus appears above ground again.

As part of the Summerific series by Proven Winners, 'Candy Crush' is one of several easy-to-grow hardy hibiscus varieties that offer a tropical look without the hassle of growing more tender hibiscuses in cooler regions. You might also want to try ‘Cranberry Crush’ with its deep red blossoms or ‘Cherry Choco Latte’, a red-veined pink giant.


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