Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

Swamp Hibiscus Outshines Its Name


Swamp hibiscus red flowers in full bloom
This past August, my neighbor called me over and said, “I want you to see this swamp hibiscus – isn’t it the most gorgeous thing?” Now, it isn’t often that you hear the words “swamp” and “gorgeous” in the same sentence, but in this case she’s right.

About Swamp Hibiscus

Also known as the Scarlet Rose Mallow or Texas Star, the swamp hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) is native to the east coast of the U.S. It’s one of the most spectacular native plants, with incredible, large red flowers that naturally thrive in wetlands and ditches. This spring, try sowing some seeds for a spot of brilliant perennial color in your garden.

How to Grow Swamp Hibiscus

Here’s how to grow swamp hibiscus in your yard or garden:

  • Planting Zone: Swamp hibiscus grows in zones 7-10.
  • Planting Habit: Swamp hibiscus is a large herbaceous perennial, so it dies completely down in winter and sprouts fresh each spring.
  • Flowers: Swamp hibiscus blooms in mid to late summer through early fall. Each bloom only lasts a day or so, but they put on a successive show that’ll keep you coming back each day to see what’s new.
  • Swamp Hibiscus flower

  • Size: Swamp hibiscus is unusually large for a perennial, growing up to 7-12 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide. The plants are tall and leggy, with five or more stems coming out of the ground.
  • Growing Conditions: Swamp hibiscus do best in full sun and mildly acidic soil. Great for low-lying soggy areas or around water features but will grow in normal garden soil, too, as long as it gets plenty of water.
  • Growing Tips: For a more compact and bushy plant, prune the first sprouts of the swamp hibiscus back to encourage branching. Or, simply plant at the back of the garden and allow it to reach its full height, supporting with stakes if needed. Once the swamp hibiscus has been killed by frost, cut the stalks down the ground and add them to your compost pile.
  • Other Benefits: Swamp hibiscus is attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and birds. It’s easy to grow from seed, and you can save the seeds for sharing. You can also propagate swamp hibiscus by division.

Further Information

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6 Comments on “Swamp Hibiscus Outshines Its Name”

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  1. Nell Smith Says:
    April 10th, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    A Friend gave me one last fall. It had lots of roots, but wasn’t pretty. The stalks wasn’t pretty, but the plant is beautiful! Mine is growing real fast, and I believe it will bloom this Summer. I absolutely adore this plant. I also am going to plant some pink & white Hibiscis seed. I pray they will grow.

  2. Jennifer Gammons Says:
    August 10th, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    My aunt gave me one of these this spring off her plant. I do not have a green thumb by any means, but this plant is crazy beautiful! I planted it against our garage and just waited… Last week we started getting blooms :). She says it will get bigger every year. I am so excited!

  3. Dawn Scrutton Says:
    August 31st, 2014 at 8:37 am

    I live in the midlands region of the UK and my swamp Hibiscus has excelled this year, mainly I think because we have had an exceptionally wrm summer. I grow it in my conservatory, it had 13 flowers and grew to 9 feet. I overwinter it in a cold greenhouse but if the temperature drops too low I bring it indoors and put in a cool room. My question is should I keep watering it when I cut it down or let it dry out. It has certainly been a showstopper this year. Thank you. Dawn

  4. Alice Says:
    November 21st, 2014 at 3:52 am

    my niece gave me a small plant last year I brought it home and planted it, this plant is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen it gave me such pleasure all summer the blooms are spectacular very large and a brilliant red they bloomed all summer, we have saved all the seed we plan on planting them this Spring…these are beautiful plants and I’m so happy to have one.

  5. Bettina Hurliman Says:
    January 25th, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    How do you grow a water hibiscus from a seed pod?
    Thank you for your response.

  6. 30yr landscaper Says:
    March 17th, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    To answer Bettina’s question: I score (scrape with sandpaper or nail file, not too much) the seed and soak it over night in water then I place the seed in good seed starter soil, I prefer a phafard mix (I usually start in a 4″ pot) keep the soil moist. Once the seed starts to germinate I start moving it towards more light. When the plant has a good root system you can transfer it to your garden or start moving it up in pot size. Remember that you should wait until the roots fill the pot before going up to the next size pot. Never go into a pot over one size up or you will cause other issues. I love Swamp Hibiscus and share seeds with my family and friends. In case you wonder, I have been landscaping for 30yrs and it makes my day to share my knowledge with others.

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