Life is the flower for which love is the honey ~Victor Hugo
One of the most beautiful native plants that blooms in later summer looks like it belongs on a tropical island. You can’t miss its huge blooms when they finally unfurl in the garden. Of course I am talking about Hibiscus moscheutos or Rose Mallow. I call it Hardy Hibiscus. It is part of the Malvaceae or Mallow Family. It has many colorful names: Crimsoneyed rosemallow, Marshmallow hibiscus, swamp rose-mallow or eastern rosemallow.
As summer heats up, the new green shoots of my hardy hibiscus begin to break dormancy, and quickly put on growth. Before long, I am watching huge exotic looking 6-8 inch flowers bursting out all over the the 4-6 foot stems and massive leaves. It is a perfect plant for those persistently moist sunny spots like my rain garden areas especially where the soil is sandy or amended. Which makes perfect sense since this flower is native to marshy areas.
Hibiscus moscheutos has been cultivated to create a variety of many wonderful flowers. Above is ‘Kopper King’ one of my favorite cultivars for ist gorgeous large flowers and burgundy foliage. In the wild you might run across white, pink or red flowers with a deep maroon eye. But they are all beautiful, and a favorite in my wildlife garden. I am profiling this gorgeous native as I link in with Gail@Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday meme.
Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheustos) grows from zone 5 to 10 from a single crown like a shrub. The gray-green, heart shaped leaves give way to flowers that have a long yellow colored central stamen with five round stigmas at the tip. The flowers last only a couple of days, but there are so many flowers that open in succession that you don’t mind their quick exit.
They say it is best to deadhead the flowers to maintain plant appearance, but I let it go as I love the look of the spent flowers. It is also useful to mulch this plant to keep it from drying out. In autumn, cut back the stems to approximately 3-4″.
Hardy hibiscus has no serious insect or disease problems. It is susceptible to leaf spot, blight and rust if not given lots of room to grow. Japanese beetles, whiteflies and aphids can also be an issue especially Japanese beetles which can severely damage foliage if left unchecked. You do not need to stake this plant if it is grown in the ideal environment.
Hardy hibiscus can be grown from seed, crown divisions during winter, and hard-wood cuttings taken in mid summer. I hope to take some divisions and cuttings to grow more of these flowers.
Where Are They Found
This U.S. native grows from the eastern United States, just North of Florida and east of Mississippi River. It is also found in Ontario Canada.
In Canada this plant is listed as a species of special concern.
Benefits to Wildlife
Tall stems are important for over-wintering insects. Birds will use the shredded previous year’s stems as nesting material. Deer tend to leave this plant alone.
Folklore and Tales
In colonial times, the root of the rose mallow was used to make the first “marshmallow”. But this “marshmallow” was used as medicine to help soothe sore throats. Of course eventually “marshmallow” became a sweet treat from a different plant.
The Shinnecock tribe used Hibiscus moscheustos as a urinary aid by making an infusion of dried stalks. Some even use it in a tea.
In the Language of Flowers, Hibiscus (Mallow) means delicate beauty or sweet disposition. And since ancient times mallow leaves were used as a plea for forgiveness.
How can you not forgive someone who gives you this stunning flower.
“I must have flowers, always, and always.” Claude Monet
Check out other posts in the series, Wildflower Tale:
Next up on the blog: Monday is time for another garden review in my Gardens Eye Journal post wrapping up October.
I enjoyed doing a guest post over at Vision and Verb. I hope you will visit this wonderful website of women writers.
I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.
I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my most current post now. Tuesday brings my next post.
As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.
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