Hardy hibiscus--scientifically known as Hibiscus moscheutos, and also called the rose mallow and the swamp mallow--is a perennial flowering plant native to the eastern United States, and not to be confused with the tropical hibiscus. The hardy hibiscus plant features vibrant red, pink or white flowers that appear in midsummer, and can range from 4 inches in diameter to the size of a dinner plate. The hardy hibiscus can thrive in a variety of climates, surviving summer temperatures of 37.8 degrees C and winter temperatures of -6.67 degrees C below zero with equal ease. Its short-lived blossoms only last a day, but this is no drawback; this prolific bloomer can produce over 100 flowers in a season. By observing some basic guidelines for germination and planting, you can grow this colourful plant from seeds.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Small peat pots
- Seed starter potting mix, commercial grade
- Spray mister
- Thick, clear plastic bags
- Under tray heater (optional)
- Grow light (optional)
Soak the hardy hibiscus seeds in lukewarm water before sowing them to promote germination. According to the TM Seeds website, two hours soak time is sufficient. Do this in March or April, eight weeks before the ideal outdoor transplant date of June or July.
Fill the peat pots with commercial seed starter mix, and spray the surface of the mix so that it is damp. Sow the seeds onto the surface, two or three to a pot, and cover with 1/16 inch of the mix. Spray the surface to provide moisture without disturbing the shallow seeds.
Seal each pot inside a plastic bag and keep in bright, indirect light at 23.9 degrees C. Use a thermometer to determine which spot in your house to use. You may need to use an under tray heater specifically for seed starting.
Remove the plastic when the seeds germinate--usually within 30 to 40 days--and move the pots to a sunny windowsill. You can also use a grow light, positioned 3 inches above the seedlings.
Keep the soil consistently moist, but not overly soggy or waterlogged. Do not allow the soil to dry out, or the sprouts to wilt.
Transplant the seedlings outside five to seven weeks after germination, spacing them 36 inches apart in a site in full sun with moist, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.1 to 6.5.
Tips and warnings
- Because summer winds can knock off the hardy hibiscus' vivid blooms, make sure your planting site is sheltered.
- Although hardy hibiscus reliably returns every year, it will be one of the last to emerge in your garden, sometimes not showing itself until early summer. Mark the spot where you transplanted your seedlings to avoid uprooting them by mistake, and have patience.
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