Monday, August 10, 2015

Native Spotlight: Rose Mallow

Guest Blog by Rachel Shaw

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/.

4 comments:

MaryF said...

Rose mallow, also known as hardy hibiscus is one of my most favorite plants. While they do flourish near water, once established they do quite well without supplemental watering. I've had them for years and have yet for any volunteer seedlings sprout from them. It's a plant I would very much like to have more of, especially considering their wonderful variety. They're fantastic!

Alchymist said...

I agree with Mary -- I have many varieties of hardy hibiscus (and also grew them from seed for the first time this year) ... and they have never spread with any volunteers.

Botania said...

That's good to hear!It's a beautiful plant.

rockypandora said...

The seeds germinate easily and you'll have plenty of plants to share. Also, if you want to collect seed, wait till the pod is dry and starting to split (check for bugs in the pods)
When ready to germinate, put hot water over the seed, and let sit for a day. Very easy to grow.