ShadyGardens Blog

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.


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/

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