The Q&A Archives: Hardy Hibiscus

Question: I had a hardy hibiscus "Lord Baltimore" when I lived in Barren Co., KY 42141 and would cut it to the ground each year. I now live in Allen Co. which is about 20 miles away. Last year I purchased three hardy hibiscus..."Mauna Kea" & "Etna Pink" both said they were hardy to Zone 3 (-40 degrees). The nursery where I bought the third told me it was hardy. It is a smaller plant called "Simple Love". Can you advise if the proper care of these three hibiscus are to cut to the ground as I did with "Lord Baltimore"?

Answer: The plants with the Hawaiian names are a newly introduced group of hardy hibiscus. Their care should be similar to that of the Lord Baltimore. In my experience, the hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos) plants we grow as perennials die back to the ground naturally in the course of the winter. You may trim off the stems in late fall after the cold weather has killed them back or wait until early spring, as you prefer. Most gardeners will also use a fairly thick mulch over top of these plants each winter. The plants emerge somewhat late in the spring when the soil is finally very warm, so it is helpful to mark their location so that you do not accidentally plant on top of or step on them. Enjoy your new plants!

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