We are very excited to be able to offer the new Summer Spice™ series of Hardy Hibiscus for 2019! This series offers never before seen colors of these perennial Hibiscus in blue and true purple hues as well as other colors and all offer a tidy compact 3’ x 3’ habit with deep green foliage. These Hibiscus were developed through years of breeding, trials, and selection by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and the Texas Foundation Seed Service and are being marketed and produced by J. Berry Nursery of Grand Saline, Texas. The Summer Spice™ Hardy Hibiscus series and J. Berry Nursery were awarded the Reader's Choice & Editor's Choice Medals of Excellence by Greenhouse Grower Magazine. Clockwise from the top right: Bleu Brulee™, Crème de la Crème™, Cordon Bleu™, and Plum Flambe™. Images courtesy of J. Berry Nursery, all rights reserved.

Hardy Hibiscus, a.k.a. Perennial Hibiscus, produce some of the largest flowers found in gardens and landscapes and some of the earliest selections were known as ‘Dinner Plate’ Hibiscus and for good reason as some cultivars can have flowers 12 inches or more across. These perennials were originally bred from our native Marsh Mallow species (Hibiscus moscheutos, H. grandiflora, H. coccinea, etc…) but today they have added other Hibiscus species and cultivars in the mix to be able to develop plants with blues, purples, and even orange flowers.

The colorful show begins in late spring and early summer and can continue until first frost with these Hibiscus. In mid to late fall and winter the stems turn brown as the plant enters dormancy. Hardy Hibiscus always seem slow to emerge in spring and are one of the last summer flowering plants to show up in the garden. Be patient with them as they are simply trying to avoid being bit by a late freeze or hardy frost. The flowers of Hardy Hibiscus attract a variety of pollinators including but not limited to butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. The foliage of the Marsh Mallow, Hibiscus moscheutos, may be used by over two dozen species of butterflies and this will likely carry over into at least some of these hybrids.

Begin fertilizing as soon as you see new stems emerging from the crowns. A balanced slow release fertilizer, including types that contain trace elements, are recommended. The brown stems can be cut back just above any live green tissue (about 4-6” high) in late fall and winter. In our own gardens we may leave the stems through winter as they may provide some additional protection to the crown. In fall and winter mulch the crowns with a loose breathable but insulative mulch especially for newly planted plants (in all but zone 10) and in USDA Cold Hardiness zones 7 or 8 and colder. J. Berry Nursery also recommends that you plant the crown just below the soil line as this triggers the ‘eyes’ or stem buds at the base of the plant to develop quicker. This will likely also help to ensure winter hardiness in the colder portions of their range.

The optimum planting time for Hardy Hibiscus is in about mid-spring just before or as the new growth is emerging until about mid-summer but dormant and containerized perennial Hibiscus can be planted any time of year. Select a site that gets a minimum of 4-6 hours of direct sunlight and full to mostly sunny conditions are preferred for the densest growth and maximum flower production. These Hibiscus are tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions from wet and boggy, to moist, to average moist soils as well as heavy clay soils. For the first year or two it will be a good idea to provide supplemental water during dry spells to aid in plant establishment. J. Berry Nursery also recommends pinching these Hibiscus once the new shoots are about 4-6” high, leaving 6-8 leaves below the pinch, to produce fuller, well-branched, and more compact plants.  Outside of their hardiness zones these Hibiscus are easy to overwinter as container plants some gardeners and landscapers use them as summer annuals due to the fantastic show they put on and the massive traffic stopping flowers.

Information and images for the Summer Spice™ Hibiscus series is provided by and credited to J. Berry Nursery, all rights reserved. Visit their website, https://www.jberrynursery.com, for more information about these amazing new Hardy Hibiscus!