The Q&A Archives: Hibiscus for Northeast Garden

Question: I love tropical hibiscus but live in northeast U.S, where the weather gets cold. Is there a type of hibiscus that will thrive in this area, any special planting tips or precautions?

Answer: Many gardeners grow the tropical hibiscus as a container plant and bring them indoors each winter -- just a thought.

There is a very hardy hibiscus shrub, also called Rose of Sharon or Shrub Althea (Hibiscus syriacus). This is a potentially large (up to 8 or 12 foot) shrub with lovely blooms in mid to late summer. It is easy to grow, can be pruned for size in very early spring, and does best in full sun in any reasonable soil. The double flowered forms are very striking.

There is also a group of perennials in the rose mallow group called Hibiscus. These large plants need full sun and a rich moist soil and produce large crepepapery blooms in mid to late summer -- also quite lovely. Some common varieties you might see are "Lord Baltimore", "Southern Belle" or the dwarf "Disco Belle". These are late to emerge in the spring so mark the spot where they are planted and be very patient.

Enjoy your hibiscus!

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