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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Hibiscus: New huge-flowered perennial varieties

Posted by Graham Rice on 24 Feb 2012 at 04:10 PM

Hibiscus: New huge-flowered perennial varieties. Images © Walters GardensMost of us are familiar with the shrubby hibiscus, attractive summer flowering shrubs with single or double, mallow-like flowers. But there’s also a wide range of hardy perennial types that we hardly ever see – and they have HUGE flowers. Now’s your chance to try the latest varieties (above, click to enlarge).

Let’s start with the flowers. They’re like lavatera or single hollyhock flowers, in red, pinks, bicolours and white but they reach from 8-12in/20-30cm across. They’re probably about the size of your head! They develop on upright stems from large thongy roots and flower from mid summer into autumn on plants about 3ft/90cm high. Can you imagine?

So why do we see them so rarely? It’s not that they’re tender. A few years ago, when I was in Michigan, I visited a nursery where one of the top breeders was trialing new varieties. They were planted in a windswept field in an area where the winter temperature reaches as low as -29C/-20F. So they’re tough.

But they do like a hot summer, so they’re more likely to thrive in the warmer parts of the country and they appreciate a cosy sunny area in cooler regions. They’re also good in large containers.

Six varieties are available this year, from three of America’s top breeders, so you can choose the colours you prefer.

‘Cranberry Crush’ (bottom right): black buds opening to scarlet flowers.
‘Jazzberry Jam’ (top centre): ruffled magenta pink flowers with a scarlet eye.
‘Kopper King’ (top right): blushed white flowers with red eyes and coppery foliage.
‘Luna Red’: bright scarlet flowers.
‘Old Yella’ (bottom centre); yellow buds open to creamy, scarlet-centred flowers.
‘Summer Storm’ (left): pale pink flowers with darker veining; purple foliage.

These perennial Hibiscus are available from Mr Fothergill’s and from Thompson & Morgan.

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