Today we’re going to show you how to be successful gardening with these gorgeous plants.
Pink hibiscus, with its gigantic blooms against dark green foliage, is a traffic stopper and relatively easy to grow. And bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love them!
Pink hibiscus plants are easily recognizable. It is an ever-blooming shrub that grows to about 10 feet tall. It produces blooms with 5 petals and a large, fuzzy pistil that protrudes beyond the pistils. The flowers can be 12 inches wide and the plant blooms all season long, producing non-stop flowers for months.
Hibiscus is a member of the Malvaceae plant family. This plant family is found worldwide and includes hollyhocks, cotton, okra, cacao, and mallow. There are over 500 species, mostly found in the tropics, but some species grow in temperate climates.
Let’s talk about three fantastic members of this family. In this article we will review each of these three members that are all great garden performers.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is perennial in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. People who live in USDA zones 8 and lower can grow it as an annual, either in the garden or as a container plant. If grown in containers, tropical hibiscus can be brought indoors before the first frost and overwintered.
It flowers continually all year long in warm climates. In temperate zones, their bloom time is from summer until frost.
Here’s a look at a few of the many pink varieties. These are time tested, beautiful favorites of gardeners everywhere.
This variety grows to 8 feet tall by 4-5 feet wide, with 6 inch pink petals with a red eye.
The Yoder reaches 4 to 5 feet tall and wide, with 5 inch fuschia flowers. This is an old, beloved classic.
Corona del Rey
Corona del Rey is a semi-dwarf shrub that gets 3 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. The petals are 4 to 5 inches across and are a beautiful magenta edged in a dark pink.
This variety grows to be a 3 foot by 3 foot shrub and has a 5 inch clear bright pink bloom with a red eye.
Tiny Tina is a dwarf variety, 3 feet high and wide, with small bright pink blooms.
When planting tropical hibiscus outdoors, choose rich, well-drained soil in an area with full sun.
They prefer soil with pH between 6.5 and 7, but can tolerate more alkaline soils too. You can amend the soil with compost to add nutrients and microorganisms to the soil. Space your plants 4 to 6 feet apart.
The gorgeous pink types are very popular, but they come in other colors as well – reds, yellows, and oranges. Whatever their flower color, they require the same planting methods and the same care.
Planting in the Garden
Dig a planting hole that is as deep as the container it came in and twice as wide. If you are adding compost, spread it on the soil before you dig. This will mix it into the soil as you backfill – do not put compost directly into the hole!
Settle the root ball in the hole, make sure that the plant is straight and the top of the root ball is even with the top of the hole. Gently firm the soil around the plant and water it in. Add a 2-inch layer of organic mulch around the base. This will help keep the soil warm and moist.
Planting in Containers
Tropical hibiscus can be grown in a container, making it easy to bring indoors for the winter. Use a good quality potting mix, one that is rich in organic matter.
Be sure that the container is at least twice as wide as your plant’s root ball. For example, when growing in a one-gallon container, it would be to use a 12 to 14-inch pot. This will give the plant’s root system plenty of room to spread out. Make sure the root ball is lightly covered with the potting soil and that the soil is about an inch below the rim of the pot.
To care for your hibiscus, water your plant frequently. It needs constant moisture.
When growing in a garden, water your plant when the top of the soil is dry. It may need 1 to 2 inches of water per week. They are also heavy feeders, so fertilize weekly with a balanced 10:10:10 fertilizer.
When growing in a container, be prepared to water it daily, sometimes even twice a day. When grown in in containers, they will need more frequent waterings and they will let you know they need more water by wilting. Luckily, they will bounce back, and when they do, water plants again. Similar to when grown in the garden, fertilize it weekly.
If you live where winter temperatures drop below 50°F, you can winterize your hibiscus and allow it to keep growing by bringing it indoors. Keep it by a brightly lit window. Do this well before the first frost date. By doing this, your plant will continue to bloom for a little while.
Remember that heated indoor air can dry out the soil quickly, so check your plant every day and water when the top of the soil is dry to the touch. Water deeply, and fertilize at a half rate once a month.
Sometimes when you bring hibiscus inside, it will lose all its leaves and appear to be dead. But don’t give up! Your plant could have gone dormant. Keep the soil slightly moist and do not fertilize. After a few weeks, it should begin to grow leaves again.
Don’t rush to bring your plant outside in the spring. Wait until the danger of frost has passed and warm weather has arrived before bringing it back outdoors.
If you live in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8, hardy hibiscus is the choice for you. It blooms from July to September, and sometimes later into the autumn if the weather is warm.
Hibiscus moscheutos (rose mallow) is a North American native plant that grows in wetlands from Massachusetts to Florida and west to Kansas, Illinois, and Wisconsin. All the hardy hibiscus plants we can purchase at nurseries are cultivators and crosses that have come from from H. moscheutos and other hardy hibiscus species.
Pink Hardy Varieties
Luna Pink Swirl
This variety has 6 to 8-inch flowers on a 2 to 3 feet high and wide plant. The petals are darker on the edges and lighter toward the center with a dark eye.
Luna Rose has the largest blooms of the Luna series and blooms earlier than the others. It grows 2 to 3 feet high and wide with 4 to 6-inch rosy pink flowers.
Disco Belle Pink
This variety grows about 2-½ feet high and wide. Its 9-inch flowers have a picotee look with darker edges on the petals, lighter insides, and a red-eyed center.
This variety grows 3 to 4 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide. Its 10-inch bright pink petals flare out, giving the flower a flat-faced appearance.
Lady Baltimore is an old classic that gets 4 to 5 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide with 6 inch pale pink ruffled flowers and a red eye.
Summerific Berry Awesome
Summerific Berry Awesome is part of the Proven Winners Summerific series and has 7 to 8-inch raspberry-colored flowers with red eyes that cover a 4 feet tall by 5 feet wide plant.
Growing Hardy Varieties
To grow hardy varieties, choose a spot in full sun and with soil that is rich and fertile, moist but well-draining. These herbaceous shrubs are heavy feeders and thirsty plants that like a regular fertilizer schedule and frequent waterings An organic mulch applied around the base of the plants can help keep moisture in and the soil warm.
They breaks dormancy later in the season than some other perennials, waiting until soil temperatures are 60°F to send up new shoots.
Hardy hibiscus should be planted in the back of the garden border – it’s a big, bold presence!
Rose of Sharon (Althea)
Hibiscus syriacus is a vase-shaped, deciduous shrub that grows 5 to 8 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide. It’s hardy to zone 5, and certainly worth a try in sheltered areas of zone 4. Sometimes these shrubs are sold pruned into small trees. Bloom size is smaller than H. moscheutos and Althea blooms on new growth in late summer and fall. This late-flowering shrub is an excellent addition to the garden.
Rose-of-Sharon can reseed freely and is on the invasive plant list in Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia, so don’t grow it if you live in these states. It’s recommended that Rose of Sharon be pruned shortly after it has finished flowering to prevent seed pods from forming.
Pink Rose of Sharon Varieties
This variety from Proven Winners has 4 inch pale-colored double flowers.
Sugar Tip, another Proven Winners introduction – tops out at 6 feet with variegated leaves and produces 4 inch clear pink double flowers.
Lucy has 4 inch double flowers in deep pink.
Aphrodite has bright pink 4-inch flowers with a red eye. This plant is sterile and doesn’t produce seeds.
Magenta Chiffon is also from Proven Winners. It has dark pink double flowers.
Plant Rose of Sharon in full sun in rich, moist, but well-drained soil. Dig a planting hole twice as wide and as deep as the root ball. If planting as a hedge, the center of one plant should be 4 feet away from the center of the next plant. Water deeply and apply a 2-inch layer of mulch.
Pests and Diseases
Listed below are some common hibiscus diseases and pests. Make sure to check out our in-depth article about pests and diseases.
- Root and crown rots
- Leaf spots
- Powdery mildew
- Spider mites
Don’t let this list keep you from gardening with hibiscus. Many diseases can be avoided by using good cultural practices, especially proper watering. Insect pests can be controlled with insecticidal soap and sometimes, just a hard spray from the garden hose can dislodge them.
Because pink hibiscus are such a strong presence in the garden, it might be hard to find the right companions for them. In general, look for plants that have the same care requirements first. Then look for plants with contrasting foliage and flower size, shape, and color.
- Excellent in rain gardens with black-eyed Susan, cardinal flower, Amsonia, and turtlehead.
- Plant annual black and blue salvia with hardy hibiscus. The sizes complement each other and the contrast between flower shape and color makes both plants stand out.
- Plant hardy varieties with monarda, daylilies, and fall-blooming anemone.
- Grow hibiscus as a hedge. Gorgeous, especially if you mix colors.
- Combine with other summer flowering shrubs like caryopteris and hydrangea.
- Grow as a single eye-catching specimen in a container, with a chartreuse sweet potato vine at the base.
- If your pots are large enough, combine them with other tropical container plants like crotons and Mandevilla.
Pink Flower Tea
Any article about hibiscus can’t be complete without a flower tea recipe. This delicious tea is made from fresh or dried flowers. It’s rich in vitamin C and purportedly has many health benefits. And it’s refreshing and tasty.
Here’s the recipe:
- 2 cups fresh tropical hibiscus flowers, calyx, and pistil removed, or ½ cup dried flowers
- 8 cups of water
- ¼ cup honey, to taste
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- Bring the flowers and water to a boil in a large pot.
- Remove from heat and cover the pot.
- Let steep for 15-20 minutes.
- Mix in honey and lime juice.
- Strain the tea.
- Enjoy hot or over ice.
You can also add in basil, lemongrass, lemon zest, or mint for a different flavor.