Name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis aka tropical hibiscus
Type of Plant: This is a shrub in warmer climates, but a tropical container plant for those of us who live in colder areas.
Why I love this: Huge SHOWY flowers that the bees love and people enjoy even more. When I was down at the fantastic TPIE trade show in January, the display of Hollywood Hibiscus at the J. Berry Nursery booth had me swooning. It used to be that tropical hibiscus just came in yellow, pink or red…but now you can find this plant in assorted, often hard-to-describe colors with several shades in each bloom. Yum. The flowers open one after another all summer long when the plant is kept well watered and fertilized.
A Word to the Wise: This shrub wants well drained but consistently moist soil. (This is true whether it’s in the garden or in a container.) So use a pot with drainage holes and don’t block those holes with rocks, paper towels or other debris. Plant these shrubs in good quality potting soil and repot when they become root bound. (Root bound plants dry up more quickly, and the roots can also clog the drainage holes.)
Overwinter this plant in front of a sunny window and be on the lookout for occasional whitefly or scale attack. Treat pests with horticultural oil.
Fertilize this plant regularly – I use a granular organic fertilizer such as Plant-tone. Prune them back in April, and check to see if the plant is root bound before you put it outside again for the summer.
When you grow these on a patio, bring them inside when the night time temperatures start to fall below fifty degrees. And don’t put them back outdoors until the night temps are reliably above fifty.