Tropical style is all the rage right now. Caladiums fly off the benches. Cuttings of rare specimens sell for unimaginable sums. Monsteras have made ‘fenestration’ a household term. This is all well and good, but there is only one true queen when it comes to tropical flare in the Midwest landscape, and her majesty’s name is Hibiscus.
Also known as rose mallow, hardy Hibiscus boasts the same magnificently large and exotic blooms as tropical Hibiscus, but it will return year after year. Perhaps a nod to her tropical beauty, this plant doesn’t like to show itself until the weather heats up. It is often the last plant to emerge in early to mid June, at which point the explosive growth makes up for any lost time.
Hibiscus makes an excellent focal point in the sunny garden, a fine informal hedge, and a showy replacement for medium to large shrubs anywhere in the landscape. The huge flowers in mid to late summer look fantastic against Hydrangea blooms. Large leaved Hostas; tropical annuals like Canna Lily, Lantana, and Colocasia; and late summer blooming perennials like Rudbeckia would all make fantastic partners for Hibiscus.
When choosing a site for hardy Hibiscus, consistent moisture and rich, fertile soil will yield optimal results. Excellent sun exposure ensures best vigor and abundant flowering. Finally, protection from tattering winds will keep the queen looking her best.