The Q&A Archives: Which Kind Of Hibiscus?

Question: I recently bought an Hibiscus plant from Home Depot. The sales rep. said that it would survive the winter outdoors. Now that I've already planted it, I've been reading up on the plant. From what I can tell, the type that I have is tropical. The name on the info card says Hibiscus Spp. Can anyone tell me what that means and what kind of hibiscus it is? I'm rather curious to see if it will stay outside or not.

Answer: The letters are not very descriptive, they simply mean "species" as opposed to being a named cultivar. So it is an unnamed hibiscus of some kind. There are several possibilities. The tropical hibiscus or H. rosa-sinensis is sold as a patio plant and can be wintered indoors. There are the hardy woody shrubs called Rose of Sharon or H. Syriacus. This would probably survive outdoors for you if planted in a spot that is not too exposed, cold, and windy (they are hardy to zone 5 and your zip code places you in the coldest part of zone 5.) There are also numerous perennial hibiscus that are grown in the flower garden and should also survive for you. I think you need to look at a few photos and check the foliage -- also the flowers when it blooms -- to try to puzzle it out. Alternatively you could compare it with other more fully labeled plants and see, or take some photos of your plant and consult with your county extension or nursery staff. Good luck with your hibiscus!

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