Story and Photos by Yvonne Lelong Bordelon
If you enjoy large, showy, saucer-shaped flowers that attract hummingbirds and pollinators, then you will love native rosemallow. This cold-hardy, heat-tolerant hibiscus grows well in wet places or in moist full-sun to part-shade beds and perennial borders, in formal or naturalized settings.
Several outstanding cultivars and hybrids have been developed that produce 8-12 inch blush to deep red flowers on compact bushes. The Disco Belle series, Southern Belle series, Luna series, and the “wild” H. moscheutos species can be propagated from seed. For most of the other cultivars, stem or tip cuttings taken in early July will root well if misted.
Companions include giant coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima), Texas star hibiscus (H. coccineus), daylily (Hemerocallis) and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).
Quick Facts and Keys to Success
Common Name: Crimson-eyed rosemallow, swamp rosemallow, marshmallow hibiscus
Botanical Name: Hibiscus moscheutos
Varieties/Cultivars to Look For: Disco Belle series, Southern Belle series, Luna series, ‘Kopper King’ (pale pink bi-color with coppery leaves), ‘Pyrenees Pink’ (hot pink), ‘Lord Baltimore’ (deep red), and ‘Crimson Wonder’ (deep red)
Color: White, shades of pink and red with crimson throat
Blooming Period: Late summer (July-September)
Type: Native herbaceous perennial
Mature Size: 3-8 feet
Exposure: Full-sun to part-shade
When to Plant: Start from seed in fall and transplant into the garden in spring.
How to Plant: Space large varieties 4 feet apart. Plant in moist to wet, well-drained, slightly acid, organic-rich soil.
Watering: Moist to wet.
When to Prune: Cut back dead stems in late fall.
In Your Landscape: Both the native species and the large-flowered cultivars make wonderful additions to a hummingbird, pollinator, or wildlife garden.