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Hibiscus mutabilis

Common Name(s):
Confederate rose, Cotton rose
'Plenus' double flowered
Shrubs, Trees

A large shrub or multistemed tree in the Malvaceae family that has broad green foiliage and showy flowers.  Its leaves drop in the winter leaving unremarkable thin stems behind, but when the leaves emerge in the summer, its softly hairy leaves impart a coarse texture that gives the plant a distinctive eye-catching appeal. The flowers open white and change color over a three-day period until they are deep pink and then as they die assume a dark "blue-pink" hue. Fowers of three distinct colors appear on the shrub simultaneously. Single and double flowered varieties are available, both having quite large blossoms that are 3-5 in (8 - 13 cm) across. After flowering a round, hairy capsule forms which dries and releases fuzzy seeds, a trait that inspired one of the plants common names, rose cotton as the buds resemble the boll of that famous member of the hibiscus family.

Prune this plant in the winter after bloom.  Severe pruning to the ground can rejuvinate leggy plants.  It propagates by cuttings which root easily. When this plant is in bloom it is always in great demand at local garden centers as it is is such an unusual and beautiful flowering tree. It makes an excellent choice for a specimen plant but can also hold its own in a mixed shrub boarder. 

Seasons of Interest:

Leaves: Early Summer, bright green Bloom: Late Summer/Early Fall Fruit/Seed/Nut: Fall, Fuzzy pod and seeds

Wildlife Value:   Members of the genus Hibiscus support the following specialized bee: Ptilothrix bombiformis.

10-12 ft.
Large bright green leaves are 5 - 7 in (13 - 18 cm), hairy on the undersides and deeply lobed.
Large flowers 3-5 in (8 - 13 cm), open white then age to pink followed by a hairy capsule which dries and releases fuzzy seeds
Full sun to get the most flowers, adaptable to many soil and site conditions but prefers mild winters.
Multi-branched shrub; low branching habit
8-10 ft.
Growth Rate:
Rapid, NCEMGVA2018
pink, ncemgva2018, showy flowers, deciduous, low maintenance, bees, specimen, drought tolerant, nectar, pollinator, specialized bees, wildlife, shrub boarder, showy

NCCES plant id: 1570

Hibiscus mutabilis Flowers start off white and darken to pink.
Tatters, CC BY - 2.0
Hibiscus mutabilis Hibiscus mutabilis
James Gaither, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Hibiscus mutabilis Hibiscus mutabilis
Robert Mitchem, CC BY-NC-2.0
Hibiscus mutabilis Hibiscus mutabilis
Kumiko, CC BY - 2.0
Hibiscus mutabilis Hibiscus mutabilis
Forest and Kim Starr, CC BY - 2.0