Hibiscus is a flowering shrub that evokes an image of a vivid tropical paradise.
Hibiscus flowers can be many colors, come in single or double forms, and often last for just a day. Individual flowers may be short-lived, but the plant will produce blooms over a long flowering season—nearly year-round in South Florida. Hummingbirds are attracted by hibiscus; many types of butterflies are as well, including Cloudless Sulfurs, blues, and Gulf Fritillaries.
Hibiscus range in size from low spreading shrubs to upright tree forms that can reach twenty feet in height. Some are compact and dense, while others are open and thin. They are used in the landscape as informal hedges or screens, foundation plants, specimens, or background for other plants.
In the South, they'll stay green throughout the year, while in North Florida hibiscus will freeze to the ground, but usually return from the roots.
Swamp Mallow – Native Hibiscus
One hibiscus native to Florida is also known as the scarlet rose mallow or swamp mallow. This upright herbaceous perennial can reach a height of 4 to 8 feet.
The long leaves of this plant have slender lobes with jagged teeth. Large, gorgeous deep-red flowers appear in mid- to late summer.
The swamp mallow is often used as a specimen plant in the landscape but may go dormant in the winter. It can also be used around ponds or streams. But while the swamp mallow is native to wetland areas—which is where its common name comes from—it is tolerant of somewhat drier soils. This hibiscus requires full sun or partial shade. It can be propagated by seed or division.