Hardy Hibiscus or Rose Mallows for Iowa

News Article

There are several Hibiscus species that grow well in Iowa.  The Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is a commonA red hardy hibiscus flower on the Iowa State campus shrub in home landscapes in the southern half of Iowa. It is noted for its white, pink, blue, or lavender flowers, often with dark red centers or eyes.  Tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is a common container plant on patios, front steps, and other sunny areas in Iowa. It is noted for its bright pink, orange, red, or yellow flowers on lush dark green leaves.  Since the tropical hibiscus is not cold hardy in Iowa, plants must be brought indoors in fall. Another common species is the Hardy Hibiscus or Rose Mallow.  During the summer months, this hibiscus steals the show.  There are over 35 species of rose mallows native to the US (most in the southeast). Several hybrids have been bred between Hibiscus moscheutos and Hibsicus coccineus, two of the more showy native species.

Hardy Hibiscus species are, as the name implies, cold hardy in the Northern US, including Iowa.  They die back to the ground in fall and re-emerge late the following spring. Flowers are the largest of the hibiscus species grown in Iowa and range from 8 to 12 inches wide when fully open.  Flower colors include red, pink, plum, mauve, white, and lavender often with contrasting or dark eyes in the center of each flower. When in flower, rose mallow will give the landscape a tropical feel without the worry of winterkill.

Culture

Like all hibiscus, Rose Mallow thrives in sun. But unlike the Rose-of-Sharon, it tolerates moist soils. In fact, many of the native Hibiscus species thrive in marshy areas, wetlands, and ditches. Once established, many species and cultivars can withstand dry conditions and even short periods of drought without injury. Cultivars vary greatly in leaf size, leaf dissection, leaf color, flower color, flower size, and mature height.

Cultivars

The list below is a small sampling of the available cultivars of hardy hibiscus.

Cultivar

Height (feet)

Flower Color

Foliage Color

Angelique

3

White with red eye

Green

Berry Awesome

4

Pink/purple flowers with red eye

Green

Cherry Cheesecake

5-7

White with pink veining and red eye

Green

Copper Queen

4

Pale pink with red veining and red eye

Dark purple

Cranberry Crush

4

Bright red flowers

Green

Disco Belle

3

Red, pink, or white flowers with red eye

Green

Fantasia

3

Rosy pink with dark red eye

Green

Fireball

4

Dark red flowers

Fine textured green

Lord Baltimore

4-5

Red flowers

Green

Midnight Marvel

5-6

Dark red flowers

Dark purple

Perfect Storm

3

Pink with red eye

Dark purple

Peppermint Flare

4

White with red streaks and red eye

Green

Southern Belle

5

Red, pink, white, or bicolor flowers with red eye

Green

Starry Starry Night

4

Pink with darker pink stripes and red eye

Dark purple

Summer Carnival

4

Rosy red flowers

Variegated green pink and white

Summer Storm

7

Pink with red eye

Dark purple

Tie Dye

5

Pink outer petals with white inside and red eye

Green

Turn of the Century

6

Pink and red pinwheel like flowers with red eye

Green

 

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