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Hibiscus mutabilis

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
hi-BIS-kus mew-TAB-ill-iss
Description

A large shrub or multi-stemmed tree in the Malvaceae family, this plant has broad green foliage and showy flowers. Its leaves drop in the winter leaving unremarkable thin stems behind, but when the leaves emerge in the summer, 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. Flowers 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 that 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 rejuvenate leggy plants. It propagates by cuttings that root easily. When this plant is in bloom it is always in great demand at local garden centers as it 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 border. 

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.

 

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Plenus' double flowered
'Plenus' double flowered
Tags:
#bees#showy flowers#deciduous#drought tolerant#specimen#wildlife plant#pink flowers#showy#nectar plant#low maintenance#specialized bees#ncemgva2018#shrub border#pollinator plant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Plenus' double flowered
'Plenus' double flowered
Tags:
#bees#showy flowers#deciduous#drought tolerant#specimen#wildlife plant#pink flowers#showy#nectar plant#low maintenance#specialized bees#ncemgva2018#shrub border#pollinator plant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Hibiscus
    Species:
    mutabilis
    Family:
    Malvaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    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)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil Drainage:
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Description:
    Fuzzy pod
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Saucer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    May open white and change color to deep pink
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Bright green, lobed
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Design Feature:
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Specialized Bees