Grow in the Know: Three Types of Hibiscus and the Parts Hollywood® Hibiscus Play
You might be surprised to know that there are different types of hibiscus for the garden — after all, aren’t they just basically the same kind of plant? Their flowers look so similar. That’s because they’re all in the same plant family, but there are different types, so you need to know what you’re shopping for.
Choosing the right hibiscus for you and your garden depends upon the size of the plant you’re looking for, whether you want to plant it in the ground or in a container, your desired bloom size and color, and if you’re interested in the plant returning every year or if you’re good with a stunning annual that you would re-plant the following year.
Sound confusing? It’s really not, once you understand the three main types of hibiscus — and we’re here to help you out!
*All of our Hollywood® Hibiscus are tropical hibiscus types.
Types of Hibiscus Plants
Tropical Hibiscus: (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)
Arguably the most recognizable and widely available plants in the hibiscus family, tropical hibiscus are sun-loving beauties with glossy, dark green leaves and large, dramatic blooms in shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, lavender, purple, and white. These showy blooms also come in a variety of bicolor combinations for a little extra — like our Leading Lady™ or Social Butterfly™. Tropical hibiscus thrive in temps above 50°F, so you’ll need to plan on overwintering them as houseplants if you live in a colder climate, or simply enjoy them as annuals every year.
And the best part? While many tropical hibiscus grow up to 10’ tall, our Hollywood® Hibiscus collection features perfectly-sized compact varieties that are ideal for those summertime patio pots.
Perennial Hibiscus: (Hibiscus moscheutos)
Also known as “hardy hibiscus,” perennial hibiscus is a cold-hardy type (-20°F) prized by gardeners in cooler climates, with growth that dies back in the winter and returns again in the spring. Their mature size ranges anywhere from a dwarf 3’ tall to a whopping 10’ tall shrub with enormous blooms — usually in shades of red, pink, and white — up to 10” across. And don’t let their late-waking garden habit throw you! While they come back in the spring just a little later than most other perennials in your garden, they’ll return with enthusiasm, ready to get the party started.
If you love the look of gorgeous, brilliant blooms with a tropical vibe—but that return year after year--add Summer Spice® Hardy Hibiscus Collection to your garden beds or landscape. These compact plants with big, brilliant blooms stay nicely tidy at three feet tall and wide, but the fabulous flowers make a huge impression in the garden. Available in a range of colors, like pretty purple Plum Flambe™, deep pink Crepe Suzette™, smoky, steel blue Bleu Brulee™, and the sweet apricot-pink Amaretto™, they’ll make a splash in your garden with their tropical-like blooms.
Rose of Sharon: (Hibiscus syriacus)
Rose of Sharon hibiscus offers similar qualities of both the tropical and perennial hibiscus. It’s a deciduous, woody shrub that’s as hardy as the perennial hibiscus down to -20°F, with smaller leaves and flowers that come in shades of red, pink, purple, or white. Rose of Sharon demands just as much sun as its other hibiscus cousins and grows 8’ tall or more, but these plants don’t die back to the ground each fall: they just lose their leaves and go dormant like other popular non-evergreen shrubs. Love a little variegation on your leaves? Some Rose of Sharon varieties have attractive splashes of white on the green leaves, adding just a little extra flair to its tropical drama.
For a perfectly pretty splash of soft, sweet color in your garden, try Pink Chiffon® Rose of Sharon, a semi-double, clear pink flower that blooms all summer long. For lavender lovers, add Lavender Chiffon® Rose of Sharon, and enjoy the charming, lovely soft purple blooms adored by butterflies and hummingbirds.
How to Choose Healthy Hibiscus Plants
Now that you know what type of hibiscus you want, how do you know you’re choosing a healthy plant at the garden center? Look for these characteristics and you’re good to go:
- Dark green leaves: Lots of yellowing leaves indicate the plant is stressed; better to pass on it unless you’re into babysitting.
- Numerous flower buds: Absence of flower buds could indicate the plant has been allowed to dry out too much. Proper care will turn that around, but it’s more gratifying to start with buds about ready to open, isn’t it?
- Good overall shape: Hibiscus forms flowers on new growth, so if you purchase a plant that has an awkward or undesirable shape needing pruning, you may lose flower development in the process.
- Firm, white roots: It’s really okay to slip a plant out of its nursery pot to check out its roots. Avoid lots of thick roots encircling the inside of the pot (rootbound, and will need extra care and water) or soft brown roots (possibly rotting from too much water).