The Q&A Archives: Mistaken Identities

Question: Last year, Home Depot had Mother's Day ads for Hibiscus. I live in New England and bought one for my mother, planted it, it died due to cold. Found out it was the wrong Hibiscus, tropical. The hardy version for this area is Chinese Hibiscus, alias Rose of Sharon, which stores didn't have until nearly June! Obviously, HD should switch the two to reflect seasonal ads properly. Any suggestions?

Answer: Hibiscus can be confusing because there are tropical and hardy types. The tropical hibiscus is usually tagged tropical or tender and are sold as annuals in your region. They can either be patio plants or indoor plants. In fact, some people grow them outdoors during the warm months and take them indoors in the fall, then take them back outdoors in the spring. The hardy hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, will tolerate your winter weather and can be planted outdoors. I suspect that the tropical varieties are stocked for Mother's Day because they are in bloom at that time and who wouldn't want to give a blooming plant as a gift? The hardy hibiscus isn't usually stocked until the right planting time for your region, which is late May or early June. So, while I understand the confusion these two plants can generate, I think your local garden center is just following standard practices when it comes to stocking plants.

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