Native Spotlight: Rose Mallow
A year ago I acquired Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) at a native plant sale. At least I think I did. I always like to check out plants on the USDA plants database web site before I write something about them. Common names are notoriously unreliable, but I was a bit concerned when I saw the plant referred to as Crimson Eye Rosemallow. Almost every description and photo I’ve seen shows the flower with a bright red center, whether the petals are white, pink, or red. My flowers are pink with a white center. When I looked through the multiple photos of this species on the USDA web site, I found one that exactly matched mine, provided by the Smithsonian’s Department of Botany. I guess that will have to do.
Since last year, my plant has gone from one tall, strong stem to multiple stems from the same base. This is a plant that wants some room. The flowers are quite lovely, although they don’t last more than a day or so. When I look into the flower, there is often a bumble bee deep inside gathering pollen from the long stamens, its back comfortably supported by the innermost part of the flower.
Ideally, the plant would be in a wet spot, but this has been hard to come by here in Rockville, MD, since early July. I’ve planted mine next to a Swamp Milkweed, on the theory that if things got really dry, it would be easy to water both at once. I have done that, but I probably need to be a little less stingy with the water at this point; the quarter-inch of rain last week seemed like a lot at the time, but didn’t go very far when the ground is so parched.
I’m a little concerned that the plant will be a spreader, especially as it is developing many seedpods. I’ll have to keep a close eye on this; much as I like it, I don’t think there’s room for more than one Rose Mallow in my front yard.
About the author:
Rachel Shaw focuses on vegetable gardening and growing native plants in her small yard in Rockville, MD. She blogs at http://hummingbirdway.blogspot.com/.