Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

Swamp Hibiscus Outshines Its Name

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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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3 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

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