Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hibiscus - the herbaceous kind.

As promised, here are some of the Hibiscus that we grow here. There are probably 3 times this many, most in 2 spots, a damp spot on the back side of the daylily beds, and in the bog. These die back each winter and you cut down the old stems some time before the new ones come up in the spring or early summer. They're a bit slow, usually not appearing until the weather really warms up. They are heavy feeders, so a good application of compost will be most appreciated by them. Each plant, once mature, will produce many stems and each stem will have many buds so the bloom season will go on for several weeks. I mentioned we grow some in a bog. They don't mind at all having wet feet, and will be quite happy that way which makes then the perfect solution for the wet spot in the yard where nothing else seems to grow. If you grow them in a regular garden situation, be sure they get enough water. Did I mention the flowers??? Some plants can have blooms a foot across. They do make a statement in the garden. Most will certainly be at least 8 inches wide.
This first one is Hibiscus coccineus, a species. You'll notice that the picture isn't taken straight on. That's because I'm not 7 feet tall like this plant. Talk about something you can see from across the garden. There is a white version called 'Swamp Angel' but it hasn't proven to be especially hardy in this zone.

I hope this color comes out right on your computers. I have probably taken more pictures of 'Plum Crazy' than any other hibiscus, just trying to get the color right, purple with a hint of red. I don't know of another hibiscus like it.
This is 'Sweet Caroline', an older one and a nice pink. This one is about normal for height, usually about 5 feet tall. Clumps just get wider every year so that eventually you have a clump with dozens of huge flowers on it.

'Robert Fleming' is a new addition this year. It is by far our deepest red. To give you an idea of how fast these grow, it was 6 inches tall when it arrived in early May. it is now nearing 4 feet tall and has 3 stems with 4 blooms open today. It is very rich and velvety looking. The plant is named for one of the Fleming brothers who spent their lives hybridizing hibiscus, many of which are included in this series of pictures.

'Old Yella' has just the faintest hint of yellow, though it is much more yellow when it first opens. By the end of the day, it is usually bleached white. No longer yellow, but still a very lovely flower.

This one is 'Lady Baltimore'. Nice pink with a red eye. To give you an idea of how large these blossoms are, on the left of the picture, you can see Hank's wrist as he held the blossom up for me. There is also one named 'Lord Baltimore' that is a bright scarlet.

'Lord Baltimore' is nice, but 'Fireball' is my favorite red. It is a bit shorter, usually only 3 to 4 feet tall. It does have the unfortunate habit of kind of growing sideways, so it looks even shorter. I just let it go where it wants to, but you could grow it through a perennial support if you need your flowers to look better behaved.

Now this one is a bit of a different look. 'Davis Creek' has more of a trumpet of funnel shaped bloom. This is a look closer to some of the species hibiscus and is a bit smaller bloom.

Last but not least, is one of my most favorite ones, 'Blue River 2'. It is pure white and one of the largest we grow. It also has more texture than a lot of the others, looking very much like crepe paper and sort of reminiscent of tree peony flowers.

I hope this gets you all excited to try these if you don't already grow them. They are care free, and except for trimming the old stems down, don't require any help from the gardener.
Upcoming posts will include mushrooms, dividing daylilies, wildflowers and dragonflies.

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