Need a little ‘wow’ in your warm summer garden?
How about some of the vastly improved varieties of giant flowered perennial hibiscus?
Hardy to zone 4 and with blooms the size of dinner plates (often measuring seven to eight inches or 15 to 20 centimetres across), these unique plants usually start to show up in garden stores in early August. They are, without a doubt, the showstoppers of summer.
Perennial hibiscus have been around for years, and most have been started as seedlings.
The well-known ‘Luna’ or the new ‘Honeymoon’ series bloom from August through September with large, impressive flowers in a colour range of white, rose, red and soft pink. Both drought and sun tolerant, these hardy perennials put on quite a display.
Over the past few years, plant breeders have been working on foliage size and blooms to come up with some spectacular new varieties. I must give credit to the Proven Winner folks who have branded and promoted many of these great new varieties for gardeners to enjoy.
They have branded their hibiscus selections as the ‘Summerific Series’. Hibiscus ‘Ballet Slippers’ grows four to five feet (1.2 to 1.5 metres) tall and sports huge soft pink flowers with magenta-tipped, ruffled petals and a vibrant cherry-red eye. ‘Perfect Storm’ has white flowers edged with light pink, bright red eyes and rich burgundy foliage.
‘Berry Awesome’ is very compact with olive green leaves and huge, ruffled, lavender-pink flowers with red eyes.
Walters Gardens in Michigan is a leading-edge breeder of new varieties, and some of their superstars are ‘Mocha Moon’ that has enormous soft pink blooms with scarlet eyes; ‘Holy Grail’ with its unique, vibrant deep red flowers and near-black leaves; and ‘Midnight Marvel’ that has rich scarlet red flowers and nicely contrasting deep wine-purple foliage. There are many, many other spectacular varieties as well!
In the middle of summer, it’s nice to have some fun plants that carry a few bragging rights! Planted now, these hibiscus will give you a good showing, and year after year, they will be even more impressive and longer blooming.
A word of caution: In spring, don’t be alarmed if you do not see any new growth; they are, in fact, the very last perennial to emerge from the ground but when they do, stand back and prepare to be amazed.