Scarlet Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) is a dramatically beautiful native plant throughout wetlands in much of the Southeast, Central Florida being no exception. The blooms of this Mallow family plant are up to six inches across and the first time you see this wonderful display you will not forget it. If you have a wetland area of your property or moist sunny place perhaps near a gutter downspout, it does very well in your yard, but I have found an even better way of making it happier with more blooms is to plant it in a large container with no drainage. This can also be accomplished by creating a garden with a pond liner beneath the soil to retain water. In that type of garden you can easily grow other plants that like “wet feet”, for example our otherwise difficult to grow native Swamp Milkweed. The trick is to water the container or lined garden frequently during dry times of the year.
The Sunday volunteers at our Audubon House were surprised and delighted to see the white bloom on our healthiest plant which is nearly 7 feet tall. This is called variety Alba, Latin for white.
This perennial plant, along with our shorter scarlet specimens blooms in the spring, summer, and fall and then dies back to the ground to overwinter coming back larger and stronger the following spring.
Text by Ken Gonyo. All photos taken at Audubon House by Bob Montanaro.
Categories: Florida Native Plant