How to Grow “Dinner Plate” Hibiscus
Learn all about how to select and grow fabulous perennial Hibiscus, also known as rose mallow.
Even if you’ve never gardened before, you’ve probably heard the name Hibiscus. It’s the iconic flower of the tropics with its image splashed across Hawaiian print shirts and beach blankets everywhere. What many people don’t realize is that the name Hibiscus is used to describe many different kinds of flowers, some of which thrive in heat of the south and others which are hardy all the way north to Minnesota. Some types are grown as houseplants, while others are hardy perennials or shrubs. In this article, let’s look at perennial Hibiscus, commonly known as Rose Mallow.
Growing in zone 4 (think Minnesota, Wisconsin and the like) to zone 9 (tropical climates like Florida), rose mallow bears some of the largest flowers of any perennials. You may have heard them called “dinner plate Hibiscus”, a name coined for its huge 7-9 inch wide, circular blooms.
It’s hard to believe something with such a tropical look would be hardy in climates that see snow for three months in a row. Actually, a number of the rose mallow varieties you’ll find at your local retailer were born and bred in zone 5b Michigan. Despite their cold weather origin, they deliver outstanding performance in trials in Texas and California too. They are truly versatile perennials.
There are a few things you’ll want to know about rose mallow before you head out to choose one from your local retailer. Let’s look at selection criteria and what you’ll need to help them thrive in your garden.
Look for flower buds like this one all up and down the stems of indeterminate varieties. More buds means more blooms!
What to look for when you are shopping
One distinguishing trait of rose mallow is what is called determinate v. indeterminate bloom. Determinate describes a plant that grows to its full height before setting flowers just at the tips of its stems. When determinate varieties bloom, you’ll see flowers on the top of the plant like frosting on a cupcake. Since there are fewer flower buds overall, the bloom time will be shorter.
Indeterminate blooming varieties of rose mallow, like all of the Summerific® Hibiscus from Proven Winners, produce flowers all up and down the stems, not just at the top. As a result, you’ll have flowers all over the plant for about three times longer than determinate varieties since they bear approximately triple the number of buds.
When you’re shopping for rose mallow, read the plant labels and look for the word indeterminate or some other language that indicates the plant will bloom for many months. You can also check the stems to see where the buds are forming, though this is not always a reliable way to know if a plant is determinate or indeterminate, depending on the time of year you are shopping and how the plant was grown.
Meet the Summerific® Hibiscus collection from Proven Winners!
SUMMERIFIC® ‘Ballet Slippers’
SUMMERIFIC® ‘Berry Awesome’
|SUMMERIFIC® ‘Cherry Choco Latte'|
SUMMERIFIC® ‘Cranberry Crush’
SUMMERIFIC® ‘Perfect Storm’
SUMMERIFIC® ‘Candy Crush’
SUMMERIFIC® ‘Evening Rose’
SUMMERIFIC® ‘Holy Grail’
Now before you buy your first rose mallow, let’s look at what you’ll need to help this plant grow.
Water, water and more water
Leave lots of room for your new rose mallow to shine in the landscape.
Give me some elbow room
Bring on the sun
Full sun brings out the best colors and most blooms on rose mallow.
Give me some attention in spring
Before you see the new foliage appear in spring, take a strong pair of loppers or pruners to cut down all of the woody stems to about 6 inches tall. The new growth will appear from the base of the plant, not those brown stems, so it’s a good idea to remove them.
When the new growth appears, you’ll know the plant has woken up and is ready for some breakfast. Apply a balanced slow release plant food to the surrounding soil which will continue to feed it for several weeks. Then give it some water soluble plant food in early summer just as its flower buds are beginning to form to help the plant have energy to produce lots of flowers.
Equipped with this knowledge, you’ll be able to grow prize-winning rose mallow. We promise it will be the highlight of your garden every year from midsummer into fall. Save the label when you plant it, because your friends and neighbors will surely be asking you for ID!
Patent Info: Summerific® ‘Ballet Slippers’ USPP29896 CanPBRAF, Summerific® ‘Berry Awesome’ USPP27936 CPBR5647, Summerific® 'Candy Crush' USPPAF CanPBRAF, Summerific® 'Cherry Choco Latte' USPPAF CanPBRAF, Summerific® ‘Cranberry Crush’ USPP21984 CanPBR4254, Summerific® 'Evening Rose' USPPAF CanPBRAF, Summerific® 'Holy Grail' USPPAF CanPBRAF, Summerific® ‘Perfect Storm’ USPP27880 CanPBR5648