A true showstopper, the hardy hibiscus is sure to impress with its dinner plate-size blossoms. These large-scale herbaceous plants are quick to grow and fill a space, and they add an instant tropical feel to any garden setting. Plant hardy hibiscus at the back of the border so they don’t block any of their smaller companions, then sit back and wait for the fantastic fall flowers to begin.
Hardy hibiscus is an exciting addition to any garden space, thanks to its giant blooms. While not quite as tropical looking as its tender cousins, the hardy hibiscus still has an exotic flair to it. The oversize five-petaled blooms start as bulging, pointed buds, then slowly unfurl into dinner plate-size discs of color. Generally, you will find these somewhere in the red to white color spectrum, with just about every shade in between.
While the majority of the petals are generally one solid color, they are often studded with a contrasting "eye" in the center of the blooms. This eye is typically a deep red color, which makes quite a statement against some of the paler toned petals. Many of the colored blossoms can have light blushes on the outer edge of the petal, giving the blooms a tie-dye or swirled effect.
Related: Best Tropical Flowers For Your Patio
Many varieties boast deep reddish-green to burgundy foliage. Because these plants can reach up to 8 feet in height, they can create quite a statement in a garden, even when not in full bloom. Just make sure to place these plants in full sun for the best color.
Hardy Hibiscus Care Must-Knows
These plants can take their time getting started, especially in the more northern reaches of their hardiness. More often than not, people assume their treasured hardy hibiscus didn't make it through the winter. Don't fret! Hibiscus are notoriously slow to come up in the spring, and sometimes won't even show up until early summer (depending on how cool the spring has been). Make sure to cut back any old woody stems before new foliage does arise, and keep a watchful eye out for signs of new growth.
Another thing to note, hardy hibiscus do not like to dry out too much. They actually can take quite a bit of water and can grow in marshy conditions as well. Full sun is always best for the biggest flower display, as well as the best foliage color on the burgundy leaf varieties.
People are always wanting more of these tropical-looking hardy plants. Luckily, breeders are constantly improving hardy hibiscus and adding more colors to the palette. Almost every year, they release new varieties with darker foliage colors, new floral patterns, higher bud counts, and better branching. Keep an eye out for the Summerific collection, an excellent option for the home garden.
More Varieties of Hardy Hibiscus
'Blue River II' Hibiscus
Hibiscus moscheutos 'Blue River II' shows off 10-inch-wide, pure-white hibiscus blooms on 6-foot stems in midsummer to fall. Zones 5-10
Hibiscus moscheutos 'Fireball' is one of the most stunning perennial hibiscus plants. It bears bold red flowers up to 12 inches across on 5-foot-tall stems. It grows 3 feet wide. Zones 5-9
Hibiscus makinoi shows off large pink flowers to 5 inches wide. This hibiscus plant bears fuzzy green foliage and can grow 7 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Zones 7-10
'Lord Baltimore' Hibiscus
Hibiscus moscheutos 'Lord Baltimore' bears 10-inch-wide, bright cherry-red flowers on 4-foot stems in midsummer to fall. Zones 5-10
'Luna Pink Swirl' Hibiscus
Hibiscus 'Luna Pink Swirl' is a compact selection bearing 8-inch-wide flowers in pink and white. This hibiscus plant grows 3 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-10
'Luna Red' Hibiscus
Hibiscus 'Luna Red' is a compact selection at 2-3 feet tall. Its 8-inch, deep burgundy flowers bloom from midsummer to fall. Zones 5-10
White Rose Mallow
Hibiscus coccineus albus is a Texas native that offers pure white flowers from summer to fall. This hibiscus plant loves moist soil and grows 10 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Zones 6-11
Hardy Hibiscus Companion Plants
Joe Pye Weed
Joe Pye weed is a showstopper of a prairie native, producing huge, puffy flower heads in late summer. It prefers moist soil, but with its extensive root system, it also tolerates drought well. It is a large plant, growing 4 to 6 feet tall. Closely related, hardy ageratum is a spreading plant that grows to only 2 feet tall. Another relative, white snakeroot, reaches 4 to 5 feet tall. All are great for naturalistic or cottage plantings and for attracting butterflies.
Miscanthus is one of the most prized ornamental grasses, and one particular cultivar, 'Morning Light', sums up much of its appeal: This grass is stunning when backlit by the sun, either rising or setting. Statuesque miscanthus makes dense clumps of arching grassy foliage in an assortment of widths, decoration, and fineness, according to variety. Dramatic erect plumes of flower spikelets rise among the leaves or well above them and last beautifully through the winter. Site miscanthus with good drainage and plenty of space in sun or light shade.
This native perennial gets its name from the shape of its unusual flowers, which resemble the heads of snapping turtles. It spreads to form dense colonies of upright stems bearing pink, rose, or white flowers from late summer into fall. It grows best in some shade, and is a good choice for heavy, wet soils. It tolerates full sun with adequate moisture.