Most of us constantly dream of a little sun-soaked tropical getaway to escape to, to relax and forget about all of the worries in our daily life. Since most of us can’t actually run away to a tropical island paradise whenever we want to, it’s a lot easier to bring some of those tropical vibes home to us with a Hibiscus plant. These are the quintessential tropical plant, but their secret is that their tropical look can actually be added to any garden.
While there are truly tropical types of this plant, these are for careful collectors only. There’s an increasingly popular trend focused on the hardier hibiscus types that thrive at home in our cooler climate. The hardy temperate hibiscus makes bringing a slice of paradise home a reality for everyone.
Temperate hibiscuses have the same exotic feels as their truly tropical cousins but can still survive in our backyards. With some hardiness to temperatures up here, north of the equator, these plants are pros at handling seasonal changes like dips in temperature and periods of drought. Conditions that would immediately kill off their delicate, exotic cousin are no problem for hardy hibiscus.
These hibiscus plants thrive in USDA zones 4-8 —making them a reality for any garden across the state of Iowa. Hardy hibiscus comes in a wide range of colors from pink to red to white. Each beautiful bloom also has the iconic five-petaled shape and showy stamen that we’ve come to expect from these plants. Each bloom can be up to 12” in size and will eventually drop only to be replaced by a new flower. While they die off in the fall, they’ll come back and continue to create a little paradise at home again next year.
Pictured Below: Starry Starry Night and Mars Madness Hardy Hibiscus via Plantfinder
How to Grow Hibiscus at Home:
We love the perennial hardy hibiscus because it is a resilient plant, it provides endless showy blooms and the pollinators love it too! A few of our favorite varieties here are Mars Madness and Starry Starry Night.
The key to keeping a hibiscus happy in a temperate zone is to keep them in full sun conditions and to use very well-draining soil to protect their delicate roots from rotting. These plants can tolerate a little drought so if your schedule gets thrown off, it isn’t the end of the world, but they generally prefer to have uniformly and consistently moist roots. Beyond finding the right level of water, these blooms are very self-sufficient and will reward you will gorgeous tropical flowers in the middle of Iowa, even with a little bit of neglect.
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Hardy hibiscus can be slow to emerge here in Iowa. Often times the plant stalks may not pop appear until early June. Once a frost has occurred in the fall, cut your plant back to the ground.
We live in a world where when we want something, we can often get it easily with the swipe of a card. The good news for us gardeners is that when we want a tropical getaway, instead of an expensive vacation, we can simply bring paradise home with a simple plant, like hardy hibiscus. With these basic steps of care, you’ll be able to enjoy exotic blooms all summer long, year after year.