Types Of Hibiscus

Hibiscus plants are a popular garden plant across the world, famous for their gorgeous flowers. 

There are many types to choose from, and depending on where you live, some will be easier to take care of than others. Here we look at the different types of hibiscus, how to grow them and what they can do for your garden. 

At A Glance: What You Should Know About Hibiscus

While there are many varieties to pick from, there are certain traits that are common across all types.

Hibiscus refers to a genus in the mallow plant family, which is made up of at least two hundred different species, hailing from tropical and subtropical parts of the world.

Hibiscus plants which are grown ornamentally can largely be divided into two types: Hibiscus syriacus, which is planted outdoors, even in cooler climates, and Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, which is better off grown as a houseplant in colder areas.

You may also see Hibiscus syriacus labeled under the rose of Sharon, rose of Althea, hardy hibiscus or the garden hibiscus. 

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is also known as the Chinese hibiscus, or tropical hibiscus. Over the years, it has been heavily hybridized, creating many types to choose from.

Tropical hibiscus needs some humidity in order to thrive, and it may drop flower buds before they open if there isn’t enough around the plant.

Hibiscus flowers are large and trumpet-shaped, acting as a magnet for bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators, helping to improve the health of most plants in your garden.

The flowers can come in single or double forms. These beautiful blooms generally only last for a day once they open, but the flowering season is long, and you’ll see new flowers appear fairly quickly.

How To Distinguish Hardy and Tropical Hibiscus

Tropical hibiscus will not withstand temperatures lower than 44°F (or 7°C). This type features rich green leaves with a lovely, mirror-like sheen, and produces flowers in the brightest shades imaginable, usually in yellow, pink, white, orange, or red.

In colder areas, you can grow it in a heated greenhouse, treat it as an annual, overwinter it indoors, or grow it as a houseplant all year round.

Hardy hibiscus will tolerate much colder temperatures than tropical hibiscus. The whole plant produces paler colors than tropical hibiscus, featuring light green leaves and flowers.

Types Of Hibiscus To Consider Growing In Your Own Garden

Here are just a few types of hibiscus for you to consider growing in your own garden.

Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’

A hybrid of three different hibiscus species, ‘Kopper King’ will reach 4 feet tall. The foliage on its own is beautiful enough, with coppery or deep plum leaves, resembling that of a maple tree.

But when the flowers bloom, this beauty really comes through. They’re a creamy pink, each one featuring a deep red center. These flowers can reach anywhere from 8 to 12 inches wide.

This variety is easy to grow, and it’s robust enough that it’s a good choice for beginners. It’s hardy to frost and drought, making it the perfect focal point for any garden.

Hibiscus ‘Mars Madness’

The deep green foliage of ‘Mars Madness’ contrasts well against the pinkish-red flowers, each bloom stretching to 8 inches long. 

It’s a later-blooming hibiscus than most, and will bridge the gap between late summer and early autumn color.

Hibiscus ‘Starburst Chiffon’

A double-form hibiscus, ‘Starburst Chiffon’ will provide your garden with color from July until October, and can withstand very cold temperatures.

The flowers themselves are a brilliant white, turning to a deep pink in the heart of each flower, nearly upstaged by the double petals in the center.

Hibiscus syriacus ‘Blue Chiffon’

Sure to provide your garden with buckets of color, ‘Blue Chiffon’ is a delicate-looking hibiscus that blooms profusely.

It’s won the RHS Award of Garden Merit, so that will give you some idea of how special this variety is.

It will grow anywhere from 8 feet to 12 feet tall, producing semi-double flowers in a light blue, with a dramatic streak of purple in the center.

This is a sterile cultivar, so it will not produce seeds that you can sow. 

‘Blue Chiffon’ needs to be in the sun in order to produce the best flowers possible, and to keep the plant healthy. 

It’s also a bonus that this variety is resistant to deer.

Hibiscus syriacus ‘Aphrodite’

Ranging anywhere from 6 to 8 feet tall, ‘Aphrodite’ is a firm favorite among hibiscus gardeners, producing bright pink single-form blooms, each featuring a deep crimson central eye.

Each bloom is capable of reaching 4 inches across. 

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Black Dragon’

One of the deepest, darkest shades of red you can get, ‘Black Dragon’ produces striking flowers which are capable of reaching 12 inches wide. 

The plant itself is capable of reaching 6 feet tall once it matures.

If you look closer, you’ll notice that the center of each flower features minute, cosmic-white streaks, only adding to the plant’s beauty.

It’s not the easiest of hibiscus varieties to grow, but it is one of the most beautiful, guaranteed to give you a dramatic display of color and beauty.

Final Thoughts

Hibiscus plants are absolutely beautiful, and while some of them have a reputation of being tricky to care for, it’s all in the type you choose to begin with.

They are so versatile that you can grow them as houseplants or in your garden, but make sure you pick one suitable for your climate.

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