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Hibiscus moscheutos is often confused with:
Abelmoschus manihot Flower
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Liatris spicata Form
Monarda didyma Flowers
Lobelia cardinalis Flowers
Hibiscus moscheutos has some common insect problems:
Japanese Beetle
Aphids Found on Flowers and Foliage
Whiteflies Found on Flowers and Foliage
Hibiscus moscheutos has some other problems:
White-Tailed Deer

Mallow Rose Hibiscus moscheutos

Previously known as:

  • Hibiscus palustris
Phonetic Spelling
hy-BIS-kus mos-KEW-tus
Description

Rose Mallow is a tall, shrub-like, woody-based herbaceous perennial in the Malvaceae or mallow family. It has huge hollyhock-like flowers in shades of white, pink, red, or burgundy that blooms from midsummer to early fall. The flowers measure up to 8 inches in diameter and have spreading petals with a contrasting central eye of red or burgundy and protruding staminal column that is creamy white to pale yellow. The leaves are alternate, ovate to lanceolate, green to greenish-gray on the upper surface, and the undersides are white and hairy. The plant grows upright from to 2 to 6 feet tall and 2 to 5 feet wide and has multiple sturdy stems. The flowers are replaced by seed capsules that are 1 to 1.25 inches long, oval, and short-beaked. The seed capsule contains a ring of seeds. 

Rose Mallow is native to wetlands and creek edges in the southeastern United States and is found in all areas of North Carolina.

The genus name, Hibiscus, is an old Greek and Latin name for mallow. The specific epithet, moscheutos, is Latin for mush-scented.

This plant prefers full to partial sun and wet to constantly moist soils containing loam, silt, or some sand with organic material and a slightly acidic pH. In full sun, the plant has better bloom production and is more disease resistant. This plant is heat, humidity, and wet soil tolerant, and it is slightly salt tolerant. Plant in a protected area to prevent wind damage, and be sure to provide good air circulation. Pinching back the growing tips will encourage the plant to be more bush-like, and deadheading the spent flowers will improve the plant's appearance. The individual flowers are short-lived, but the blooming period generally lasts about 1 month. Cut back the stems nearly to ground level in the fall. Propagation is through seed planting, stem cuttings, or plant division. 

This plant was selected as the 1997 NC Wildflower of the Year, a program managed by the North Carolina Botanical Garden with some financial support from the Garden Club of North Carolina. The flowers of cultivars vary in color and can be up to 12 inches across compact plants.  

Use Rose Mallow in the lowest area of the garden, as a specimen, along streams or ponds, or as a temporary summer screen or hedge. Plant in native, pollinator, butterfly, or rain gardens. It can also be grown in large containers. Its saucer-shaped flowers are a wildlife food source and are an attractant for pollinators, hummingbirds, butterflies, and specialized bees.

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom:  Summer and Early Fall      Foliage:  Spring, Summer, and Early Fall     Fruits: Late Summer, Fall, and Winter

Quick ID Hints:

  • rounded, somewhat shrubby, hairy stems, and woody base
  • leaves are alternate, ovate to lanceolate, green above, and white and hairy beneath
  • margins may be toothed, shallowly lobed, or entire
  • flowers are dinner-plate size with white, pink, red, or burgundy, hollyhock-like, petals that overlap with a contrasting central eye, and bloom measures 4 to 6 inches in diameter
  • fruits are brown seed capsules

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Japanese beetles and the caterpillars of sawflies can severely damage foliage if left unchecked. Whiteflies, aphids, and scales are occasional insect visitors. There is some susceptibility to leaf spots, blights, rust, and canker. Leaf scorch can occur if soils dry out. This plant is occasionally damaged by deer.  

 

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy, and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Poolside Garden Juniper Level Botanic Gardens: Sunken Pond Garden Flower Bonanza Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Disco Belle' Series
    semi-dwarf, flowers pale pink, dark pink, rose, red or white with red eye
  • 'Lady Baltimore'
    light pink flowers with a red center
  • 'Luna' Series
    dwarf plant, flowers white, blush, pink, rose, red, and pink swirl, good for containers
  • Pink Tea Cups
  • 'Robert Fleming'
    compact, bloom 10 inches in diameter, red, velvety flowers, dark green foliage
  • 'Summerific Perfect Storm'
    compact, dark purple foliage, whitish-pink flowers with a red central eye
  • 'Summer Storm'
'Disco Belle' Series, 'Lady Baltimore', 'Luna' Series, Pink Tea Cups, 'Robert Fleming', 'Summerific Perfect Storm', 'Summer Storm'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#full sun tolerant#water garden#rain garden#heat tolerant#perennials#specimen#white flowers#wildlife plant#pink flowers#salt tolerant#low maintenance#riparian#fall interest#wetlands#hedges#stream banks#specialized bees#fast growing#cpp#fire medium flammability#NC native#summer flowers#deer browsing plant#pond garden#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#fantz#larval host plant#food source fall#Coastal OBL#food source nectar#food source pollen#Piedmont Mountains OBL#humidity tolerant#wet soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#nectar plant early summer#nectar plant mid-summer#nectar plant late summer#nectar plant early fall#partial shade tolerant#bee friendly#Audubon#shrub borders#NC Wildflower of the Year#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Disco Belle' Series
    semi-dwarf, flowers pale pink, dark pink, rose, red or white with red eye
  • 'Lady Baltimore'
    light pink flowers with a red center
  • 'Luna' Series
    dwarf plant, flowers white, blush, pink, rose, red, and pink swirl, good for containers
  • Pink Tea Cups
  • 'Robert Fleming'
    compact, bloom 10 inches in diameter, red, velvety flowers, dark green foliage
  • 'Summerific Perfect Storm'
    compact, dark purple foliage, whitish-pink flowers with a red central eye
  • 'Summer Storm'
'Disco Belle' Series, 'Lady Baltimore', 'Luna' Series, Pink Tea Cups, 'Robert Fleming', 'Summerific Perfect Storm', 'Summer Storm'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#full sun tolerant#water garden#rain garden#heat tolerant#perennials#specimen#white flowers#wildlife plant#pink flowers#salt tolerant#low maintenance#riparian#fall interest#wetlands#hedges#stream banks#specialized bees#fast growing#cpp#fire medium flammability#NC native#summer flowers#deer browsing plant#pond garden#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#fantz#larval host plant#food source fall#Coastal OBL#food source nectar#food source pollen#Piedmont Mountains OBL#humidity tolerant#wet soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#nectar plant early summer#nectar plant mid-summer#nectar plant late summer#nectar plant early fall#partial shade tolerant#bee friendly#Audubon#shrub borders#NC Wildflower of the Year#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Hibiscus
    Species:
    moscheutos
    Family:
    Malvaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeast Canada, Central & Eastern United States, and NE Mexico
    Distribution:
    Southeastern Canada--Ontario, Northeast Mexico, and the United States: AL, AR, CA, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MD, MI, MO, MS, NC NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI, and WV. Introduced: Algeria, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, France, Italy, Korea, Portugal, Romania, South European Russia, Transcaucasus, and Uzbekistan.
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Its flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators.  28 species of butterflies and moths use this as a caterpillar host plant.  Members of the genus Hibiscus support the following specialized bee: Ptilothrix bombiformis.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herb
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a brown, oval, 1 to 1¼ inch long seed capsule that appears from July to October. The beaked capsules turn brown within 4 to 5 weeks of the flowers blooming. Each capsule contains a ring of seeds. The seeds are dark brown, reniform, flat, and hairless.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Saucer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    > 6 inches
    Flower Description:
    The flowers may be white, pink, red, or burgundy blooms with 5 showy petals and measure 6 to 8 inches wide. They have a darker prominent and tubular staminal column of creamy white to pale yellow. They bloom from June to September. . Bloom from June to September.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Velvety
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Dentate
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are ovate to lanceolate and green to grayish-green leaves. The margins may be toothed, and have 3 to 5 shallow lobes or without lobes and entire. They measure 3 to 8 inches long by 2 to 4 inches across. The undersides are paler and pubescent. The petioles are 2 to 5 inches long and maybe green to reddish-green.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Basal stems are woody. New growth is green and hairy
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Pond
    Riparian
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heat
    Humidity
    Salt
    Wet Soil