ShadyGardens Blog

November 22, 2013

Confederate Rose is Really a Hibiscus

Filed under: blooms, buy, Confederate, flowers, gardens, hibiscus, large, Mutabilis, nursery, October, order, pink, rose, September, Shady, ship — shadygardens @ 2:39 pm
Confederate Rose is a very tall perennial
that grows like a shrub in most of the South. Near the coast it will leaf out on old stems, but in most areas, the tops will die back, and the
plant will regrow each spring from the base.

Despite their popularity and
ability to thrive in the Southeastern United States, Confederate roses are not native to
the United States but come from China. They thrive in the South anywhere that they have
time to open their very late flowers before fall frost. This species is a
popular passalong plant not usually available in your local nursery
.

Height varies from about 8 feet in the northern parts of Georgia and Alabama to about 15 feet on the coast.

Confederate Rose is an eye-catching foliage plant even before bloom, with large, soft, gray-green maple shaped leaves. Large blooms four to six inches wide open in September or October. Both double and single flowering forms are available. It is the changing of the bloom color that gives the plant its botanical name, Hibiscus mutabilis. The blooms open as a very soft pink and darken gradually to a deep pink the third day after opening. When in full bloom, the plant appears to have 3 different colored flowers all on the same bush.

Confederate Rose grows best in full sun or part shade. Although average garden soil is fine, the plant will grow larger and bloom more in good fertile soil.  As with all plants in the hibiscus family, Hibiscus mutabilis needs regular water to grow and
perform well, but can withstand drought. Water whenever you see the large leaves droop.

Once winter frosts burn back
the foliage, the entire plant can be cut back to make the garden more tidy.
This can be done any time during the winter or early spring. Near the coast,
you can let the stems stay if you don’t mind the plant becoming very large,
since Confederate Rose will resprout from current branches where winters are
mild. Even when the plant is cut to the ground, it will become 10 feet tall by summer’s end. You cannot make this plant stay small and compact, no matter what you do. Confederate Rose is meant to be a flamboyant, voluptuous focal point in the garden. Make sure you plant it where the large size can be appreciated.


Sources for this plant: Shady Gardens Nursery.


June 29, 2012

Texas Star Swamp Mallow: Native Hibiscus

Filed under: gardens, hardy, hibiscus, mallow, native, nursery, perennial, plant, Shady, southeast, star, Swamp, Texas — shadygardens @ 9:08 pm
Hibiscus coccineus, Texas Star, Swamp Mallow
Shady Gardens Nursery
One of the showiest summer bloomers in our garden this time of year is the Texas Star Hibiscus. A native plant of the Southeastern United States, Hibiscus coccineus is also known as Swamp Hibiscus, probably due to its love for moist soil.


Hibiscus coccineus is very easy to grow. It grows well near a pond or stream, and really enjoys a soggy spot. We have no pond, stream, or soggy spot in our garden–our Hibiscus is located in ordinary garden soil (that means dry hard clay in Georgia language). Admittedly, I do water it on occasion, but it grows bushier each year–we’ve had it several years now.


You can grow Hibiscus coccineus if you live anywhere in the south and as far north as USDA Zone 6!




Even before blooms begin in summer, Texas Star is a spectacular presence in the garden. Palmate leaves resemble Japanese Maple foliage and even have a reddish tinge.

Blooms are showy red star-shaped flowers appearing throughout summer and into Fall. The flowers can be up to 6 inches across!
Hibiscus coccineus dies down to the ground in winter but re-emerges in spring. By mid-summer this hibiscus will be 6-8 feet tall and look more like a shrub than an herbaceous perennial.
Texas Star Hibiscus does need full sun to bloom well, and you’ll need to water it weekly when rainfall is absent. Also a regular application of compost or composted manure will keep it growing well for you.

Source for Texas Star Hibiscus: Shady Gardens Nursery.

July 5, 2010

Hibiscus: Choose Native for an Easy, Beautiful, Low Maintenance Garden

Filed under: coccineus, hardy, hibiscus, mallow, moscheutos, native, perennial, star, Swamp, Texas — shadygardens @ 2:01 pm
Every summer many, many people purchase the Tropical Hibiscus to place on their patio, porch, or around their pool. While it is true that the Tropical Hibiscus is beautiful and really does lend a tropical look to the garden, it will die to the ground with the first frost unless you live in the sub-tropical states. And if you’ve ever tried overwintering one indoors, you know how difficult that can be!
Instead, consider our American Native Hibiscus varieties. There are several, and in my opinion they are much more beautiful than the Tropical Hibiscus. Our native hibiscus is an herbaceous perennial plant that grows to shrub size each summer.
Hibiscus coccineus has bright red star-shaped blooms all summer on tall stems. This native hibiscus is known by many common names, among which are Texas Star Hibiscus, Swamp Hibiscus, and Swamp Mallow. The Swamp Hibiscus loves consistently moist soil but grows well in my garden with only a weekly watering. Hibiscus coccineus is beautiful even when not in bloom, having reddish-tinged green leaves shaped like maple leaves. Some visitors have claimed it looks like marijuana, but I can’t say for sure, since I’ve never seen a marijuana plant. Perhaps they’re telling on themselves! What do you think?
Hibiscus coccineus at Shady Gardens Nursery

‘Very spectacular’ is the best description for Hibiscus moscheutos or Swamp Mallow. Blooms are the size of a dinnerplate! See for yourself:
Hibiscus moscheutos growing alongside Rudbeckia Goldsturm

Hybridizers have developed many types and colors, but all are beautiful and any one would be a show piece in your garden.
The native hibiscus is so easy to grow that it would be a shame not to have one in your garden. Hibiscus coccineus is hardy as cold as USDA Zone 6 and Hibiscus moscheutos is happy in even colder temperatures found in USDA Zone 4! Wow! They are deciduous plants but will return in May each year with no special care.
For more information on availability of the hardy native hibiscus, contact us anytime at Shady Gardens Nursery.

September 4, 2009

Native Plants for a Low Maintenance Garden

I am often asked why I focus so much on native plants. Many homeowners really just do not know what a native plant is, so I thought it best to clarify. A native plant is simply a plant type that occurs naturally in a particular area.

Often plants seen growing in abundance on roadsides are mistaken for native plants. The sight of kudzu and Japanese honeysuckle climbing and devouring trees and wooded areas cause new gardeners to turn up their noses at the suggestion to plant native plants. Those plants are invasive exotics and not native plants at all.

Native plants should be planted more often for several reasons:

  • Ease of growing. Native plants require less maintenance. No heavy pruning and no coddling.
  • Pest free, usually. Native plants have been growing with the same insects for years and usually will not die just because of a few bugs. A garden with no pesticides is a good thing!
  • Drought tolerant. Native plants have acclimated themselves to our changing environment and can tolerate whatever conditions a Georgia summer can dish out.
  • Deer-resistant. Yes, most native plants are deer-resistant. Deer will often walk right past a native plant to devour something from exotic lands, such as your prized hosta. Why eat something they see all the time in the woods, when they can try something new?
  • Beauty. A little known fact is that often the native plant is much more beautiful than it’s exotic counterpart. Some examples: Hibiscus coccineus, Hibiscus moscheutos, and Lonicera sempervirens. The image above is Hibiscus coccineus, native to the Southeastern United States. Isn’t it fabulous?

July 30, 2009

Hibiscus Moscheutos: Hard to Believe it’s a Native Plant!

We really do have some fabulous plants native to the Southeastern United States. Shown in the above photo is Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Lord Baltimore’ growing in our garden. Flowers are 8-10 inches across and look great with Black Eyed Susan, another native.

Hibiscus moscheutos is so spectacular that it’s very hard for me to believe it’s native to our area and not some tropical island. When I see it in full bloom, I wonder why some gardeners continue to add foreign plants to their gardens.


If red is not for you, these large-blooming hibiscus come in other colors as well. Lady Baltimore has pink blooms with a red eye. Her blooms might be even larger than Lord Baltimore.

Kopper King has smaller blooms, although still large, and reddish foliage which makes it appealing even when not in bloom.

Hibiscus enjoys moist, rich soil. You can grow it on the bank of a pond or stream, but these hibiscus grow equally well in a regular garden border. We water ours about once weekly.

Hibiscus moscheutos is available during the summer months from Shady Gardens Nursery.


July 9, 2009

Hibiscus coccineus: Texas Star

Filed under: buy, coccineus, gardens, hibiscus, moist soil, native, nursery, online, plant, sale, Shady, ship, star, Texas, wet soil — shadygardens @ 5:36 pm

One of the showiest summer bloomers in our garden this time of year is the Texas Star Hibiscus. A native plant of the Southeastern United States, Hibiscus coccineus is also known as Swamp Hibiscus, probably due to its love for moist soil.

Hibiscus coccineus is very easy to grow. It grows well near a pond or stream, and really enjoys a soggy spot. We have no pond, stream, or soggy spot in our garden–our Hibiscus is located in ordinary garden soil (that means dry hard clay in Georgia language). Admittedly, I do water it on occasion, but it grows bushier each year–we’ve had it several years now.

You can grow Hibiscus coccineus if you live anywhere in the south and as far north as USDA Zone 6!

Even before blooms begin in summer, Texas Star is a spectacular presence in the garden. Palmate leaves resemble Japanese Maple foliage and even have a reddish tinge.

Blooms are showy red star-shaped flowers appearing throughout summer and into Fall. The flowers can be up to 6 inches across!

Hibiscus coccineus dies down to the ground in winter but re-emerges in spring. By mid-summer this hibiscus will be 6-8 feet tall and look more like a shrub than an herbaceous perennial.

Texas Star Hibiscus does need full sun to bloom well, and you’ll need to water it weekly when rainfall is absent. Also a regular application of compost or composted manure will keep it growing well for you.

June 26, 2009

Althea: Hibiscus syriacus or Rose of Sharon

Once again I found myself a discouraged gardener because all that wonderful rainful we’d been receiving has come to a screeching halt! I’m not sure when it rained last here, but I know it’s time to begin praying again when I take a walk through my garden. Yesterday as I looked with sadness at all the wilted plants, I was impressed with the fluffy blooms and dark green leaves of Althea ‘Blushing Bride.’

Althea is a beautiful name to me, but this shrub is also known as Hybiscus syriacus. I like to refer to this plant by its common name of Rose of Sharon, since that is my name, but whatever you call it, Althea is a wonderful garden shrub for the south. Even when not in bloom, the foliage is attractive, remaining green and bushy even during the severe drought to which our Georgia summers are prone. Blooms can be anywhere from a crisp snow white to a dark pinkish red. Single blooms with a red eye are common but single-color blooms are available, and double blooms are spectacular.

As shown in the photo, ‘Blushing Bride’ is particularly beautiful with its soft pink fluffy double blooms that resemble carnations.

What amazes me most about Althea is its obvious tolerance for dry conditions. The name Hibiscus usually indicates a love for water and full sun. In my garden, Hibiscus syriacus or Rose of Sharon seems to prefer afternoon shade. We have been unable to offer supplemental water to the plants in our woodland garden, yet we have several Altheas that have not only survived, but they have thrived during this drought. Leaves remain deep green and blooms arrive at just about the same time that outdoor temperatures are unbearably hot. Lucky for me, I’ve planted some of these shrubs close enough to the house to be viewed from a window!

Rose of Sharon can be grown almost anywhere in the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9.

Tolerant of not only drought, but also heat, air pollution, and salty air, Althea is so easy to grow that every garden should have it! Since Althea is available in just about every color, you can find one suitable for your garden. These heirloom plants are hard to find in the nursery however. They do root easily from cuttings, if you know someone who’ll let you ‘take a piece.’ Send me a message if you want me to help you find one.

August 9, 2008

Our Native Hibiscus is easier to grow than Tropical Hibiscus!

Filed under: coccineus, hardy, hibiscus, mallow, moscheutos, native, perennial, rose mallow, Swamp mallow, Texas star — shadygardens @ 2:03 pm

Every summer many, many people purchase the Tropical Hibiscus to place on their patio, porch, or around their pool. While it is true that the Tropical Hibiscus is beautiful and really does lend a tropical look to the garden, it will die to the ground with the first frost unless you live in the sub-tropical states. And if you’ve ever tried overwintering one indoors, you know how difficult that can be!

Instead, consider our American Native Hibiscus varieties. There are several, and in my opinion they are much more beautiful than the Tropical Hibiscus. Our native hibiscus is an herbaceous perennial plant that grows to shrub size each summer.

Hibiscus coccineus has bright red star-shaped blooms all summer on tall stems. This native hibiscus is known by many common names, among which are Texas Star Hibiscus, Swamp Hibiscus, and Swamp Mallow. The Swamp Hibiscus loves consistently moist soil but grows well in my garden with only weekly waterings. Hibiscus coccineus is beautiful even when not in bloom, having reddish-tinged green leaves shaped like maple leaves. (Some visitors have claimed it looks like marijuana, but I can’t say for sure, since I’ve never seen a marijuana plant. Perhaps they’re telling on themselves!)

‘Very spectacular’ is the best description for Hibiscus moscheutos or Swamp Mallow. Blooms are the size of a dinnerplate! (See the photo above, one of the plants in our garden!) Hybridizers have developed many types and colors, but all are beautiful and any one would be a show piece in your garden.

The native hibiscus is so easy to grow that it would be a shame not to have some. H. coccineus is hardy as cold as USDA Zone 6 and H. moscheutos is happy as cold as USDA Zone 4! Wow! They are deciduous plants but will return in May each year with no special care.

For more information on availability of the hardy native hibiscus, contact us anytime at http://shadygardens.biz/

June 30, 2008

Honeysuckle & Plumleaf Azalea: Blooms In Late Summer

By the end of summer, many plants have grown tired of providing blooms for our garden. Sometimes it can be a challenge to find plants that will fill in this difficult time with flowers. A diligent gardener can find quite a few plants that bloom in late summer.

You’re probably familiar with Black-eyed Susan and Butterfly Bushes, providing the garden with blossoms this time of year no matter how hot it gets, attracting butterflies by the hundreds. You’ve seen Japanese Honeysuckle on the side of the road, or perhaps you’re even plagued with its invasive qualities in your own garden.

But have you seen our native Red Trumpet Honeysuckle? Lonicera sempervirens is a non-invasive evergreen vine that blooms almost year round, attracting hummingbirds, butterflies, and many other beneficial insects. Grow it as a groundcover, let it climb an arbor or trellis, or train it to cover a fence. You’ll be rewarded with blooms from spring to fall, and I’ve even seen blooms on mine in December! It will grow in sun or shade, but flowers more profusely in full sun.

For the shade, try Lobelia cardinalis, our native red Cardinal Flower, loved by hummingbirds. This perennial prefers moist soil, but can be grown in regular garden soil with supplemental water.

If you have a woodland garden, try the beautiful Plumleaf Azalea, an American native azalea made famous by Callaway Gardens. Rhododendron prunifolium is a rare deciduous azalea with bright red blooms in late July and August. Plumleaf Azalea prefers a cool shady spot with regular water.

Perennial hibiscus continues to offer up showy blooms in several colors right up until the onset of cold weather. There are many hybrid forms of our native perennial hibiscus, but my favorite is Hibiscus coccineus, often referred to as Swamp Hibiscus or Texas Star Hibiscus. It has attractive foliage in addition to the beautiful flowers. When I look at the blooms, it’s hard for me to believe that instead of coming from Hawaii, this plant is a native of the Southeast!

And for a little later on in the season, consider adding Swamp Sunflower, a good companion for perennial hibiscus, since they both share a love for sun and water. Helianthus blooms in September with large, bright yellow flowers on tall stems up to 10 feet tall! I hope you’ll try some of my suggestions in your late summer garden as you strive to make your garden more beautiful year round.
For more information on any plants mentioned here, contact us at
Shady Gardens Nursery.

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