Hibiscus coccineus seeds were contributed by Alice Fraser of Trustees GC. She listed them as Scarlet Hibiscus, hardiness zone 9. The Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Page makes this plant sounds great. The common name is Scarlet Rose Mallow and it is native to the Southeastern US. Very showy flowers, a hummingbird attractor and great summer bloom time. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center calls it one of our loveliest natives.
It will be marginal here in WV as it is hardy in Zones 6-9. But I have a south facing bank and have been able to grow NC plants. Charleston is now listed as 6B, but we've had a cold, harsh winter this year. Also listed as possibly being somewhat invasive in the south in swampy areas; I won't have to worry about that here since I would be at the northernmost range for hardiness.
Two side notes here - the plant is mentioned in several sites as looking like marijuana until it bursts forth in bloom. One site mentions that the plant is toxic to pets, but does not mention humans. Would welcome any comments on the toxic note!
Scarlet Rosemallow does like medium to wet soil and full sun. Part of my hillside is full of natural springs which make for very soggy conditions in the spring, and fairly dry as summer moves in so this is a potential location. One thing I have always remembered from my Master Gardeners is that wet can sometimes adapt to drier conditions (not completely dry!) but dry will never adapt to wet soggy conditions...so another plus for me.
I decided to try a different method of propagation than my other ones and used a "living lettuce" container from the grocery store. (Using leftover clear plastic food containers was mentioned in an earlier blog). Since we cannot recycle this type of plastic here, I had saved a few for this purpose. There were not any drainage holes in this one, so I poked a few in the bottom. The bottom of the container has a well with a circular ridge about half way across. I poked holes on either side of that ridge; in the center well and on the outside well to provide the necessary drainage.
|Empty "Living Lettuce" container.|
Fuschia line shows the circular raised ridge with a well on either side.
Green areas show where I added drainage holes - several all the way around.
The bottom of the container is a nice depth for a larger seed like the Hibiscus. I put in several inches of soil. The top of the container was nice and high - hopefully a perfect greenhouse.
|Hinged container - planted, labeled, closed up, |
placed in a saucer and ready to go.
Friday, March 22 - SPROUTS!
|See all the sprouts coming up!|
|Not ready to remove the top permanently, but |
took the top off to show you the seed germination.
|I broke a couple in transplanting but have about 8-10 of these.|
If these make it I will consider it a success.
|Look how well they are doing. The leaves|
are not really that yellow - that's from the flash
on my camera. Definitely progress!
|Planted directly in the yard, tomato cage for protection.|
Rain storm last night crimped the stem of the one on the right.
|Planted the remaining 3 in a large pot with some protection around it.|
Lots of good sunlight though and I can monitor the moistness of the pot.
|I took two of the three plants and put in the ground. |
Leaving one in the pot just to see which survive our upcoming winter.
|Went to visit my sister, Artful Sprout, in|
mid September. This is her hibiscus in her garden.
No blooms this year but great growth!
All three of my hibiscus coccineus survived our winter! Pretty amazing as we had very cold temperatures. There was not a lot of snow to provide coverage, but there was a lot of moisture. Hibiscus stay dormant until very late, so no action until May. A lot of patience is required as all of the other surrounding plants were out and blooming. Hibiscus start from ground level here so there was a lot of checking, hoping for a shoot. Finally, one sprouted, then another. Almost a full two weeks later the final third plant decided to make its presence known. I have not transplanted them but will leave them where they are and determine later in the summer if I am going to like this spot as a permanent one. No blooms last year, but hoping for bloom this year.
|This one stands alone, slightly|
uphill from the other two. All
three plants are in strong sun on a
south facing hillside. There are natural
springs in the hill so that there is a
lot of spring moisture.
|Here are the other two. Although|
natural springs in the hillside, the soil will
become dry and cracked later in the
summer. These will receive a nice
cover of mulch around the roots soon.
Final update on this plant! I have blooms after the 2nd year and hopefully seeds - maybe not in time for Shirley Meniece in Seattle, but hopefully some to share with our committee. I have struggled with deer liking this plant all summer. I left over Labor Day and forgot to spray and again several branches were eaten. On my return I sprayed with Bobbex, my long time favorite for keeping the deer away.
But, the plant is now so tall there is plenty left on top. Lots of blossoms coming so I will enjoy all fall. One bloom opened the other day and it is beautiful. The blossoms only last one day. I am at the top end of the growing zone for this plant (6b here in Charleston) and so it may be slower. My location is wet in the spring because of natural springs in my hillside, but very dry in the summer as it is now. The plant though has grown beautifully and has adapted to the dryness, but that could be a reason for lack of blossoms. My sister who lives in downtown Charleston also has blooms and I will share her photos. A great plant and much patience has paid off!
|One near my hyacinth bean on the|
basketball pole. You can see it is almost
as tall as the back board - 6-8'.
|The other two are about 10' away|
located in full sun near my milkweeds.
This one is blooming.
|The bloom is lovely - wish|
it lasted more than one day.
We received a comment (below) asking about propagation by division. Yes, several sources say division can easily be done. It should be done in the spring and put right back into the new location. Fall division is not suggested. You may also propagate by cuttings. Take a cutting at least 6" in length, strip off the bottom leaves, dip in a rooting hormone and place in a starter or soilless mix. In a few weeks, give a gentle tug and if you feel resistance it has rooted. I would suggest keeping inside or in a sheltered place for this. You may then either pot up into a larger pot or place directly into the ground if in a place where you can watch closely and not allow to dry out until well established. Mine are located on a south facing bank that gets some natural moisture from ground springs. They do dry out in the summer, but this is a very tolerant plant. Moist can adapt to dry but dry cannot adapt to moist conditions very easily. Here in WV we have a lot of clay. A good reference site is the Clemson U. Extension site.
|Easily over 6' tall as the|
black-eyes Susans in the
foreground are waist to
|Swamp milkweed in the |
foreground is head high so the
hibiscus behind is 6-7' tall