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Hibiscus moscheutos

Common Name(s):
Crimsoneyed rosemallow , Rose mallow, Swamp mallow, Swamp rose, Swamp rose-mallow, Wild cotton
'Luna Red', 'Lord Baltimore'
Herbs, Native Plants, Perennials, Wildflowers

Hibiscus moscheutos, commonly known as hardy hibiscus or swamp rose mallow, is a vigorous, sturdy, rounded, somewhat shrubby, hairy-stemmed, woody-based perennial of the mallow family. It typically grows to 3-7’ tall and to 2-4’ wide. It is native to wet spots (marshes, swamps, floodplains, river banks, moist meadows, and moist woods) from Ontario and Massachusetts south to Ohio, Indiana, Alabama and Florida.  

Rose mallow is native to wetlands and creek edges in the southeastern USA, and is useful in poorly drained areas. Does well around ponds or streams and makes a great temporary hedge in the summer.  It can be grown in large containers.  The flowers of cultivars vary in color and may be up to 12 in. across on compact plants.  This plant is slightly salt tolerant.

Garden uses include moist borders or as specimens. They are useful in low spots or wet areas in the landscape. Also effective along streams or ponds or as a temporary summer screen or hedge. Can be grown in large containers.


Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains

Seasons of Interest: 

  Blooms:  Late summer            Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Fall

Wildlife Value:  This plant has little resistance to damage from deer.  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.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Japanese beetles can severely damage foliage if left unchecked. Whiteflies, aphids and scale are occasional insect visitors.  There is some susceptibility to leaf spots, blights, rusts, and canker. Leaf scorch can occur if soils dry out. Healthy plants grown in the proper environment usually do not have problems and do not need staking. This plant is occasionally damaged by deer.  

Summer, fall
Full sun to partial shade
18-24 inches
Flower Color:
red, pink, white
The leaves of the Rose mallow are alternate, broad-ovate to lanceolate (3-8” long) with toothed margins which are green above and white-hairy beneath. The leaves are lobeless or have 3-5 shallow lobes. Seed capsules will float on water which facilitates seed dispersal.
Rose mallow has showy, dinner-plate-sized, hollyhock-like flowers (each to 4-6” diameter) that have five overlapping white, creamy white or pink petals with reddish-purple to dark crimson bases which form a sharply contrasting central eye. Each flower has a prominent and showy central staminal column of white to pale yellow anthers surrounding an even longer style. Individual flowers last only 1-2 days, but new flowers open each day in rapid succession over a long July to September bloom period. At the peak of bloom, a large plant can produce 20 or more flowers per day. Flowers (to 6-9” wide) are among the largest flowers produced by any perennial that is winter hardy to the St. Louis area. The flower stalk is united with the leaf stalk for part of their length.
Herbaceous perennial
Rose mallow is easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun. It does best in moist, organically rich soils, but does surprisingly well in average garden soils as long as those soils are not allowed to dry out. Regular deep watering is advisable. It is immune to the heat and humidity of the deep South. It will tolerate some light shade, but full sun with good air circulation produces the best flowers, the strongest stems and the best environment for resisting potential diseases. Site in locations protected from wind to minimize the risk of wind burn. Pinch back growing tips when they reach 8” and again at 12” if bushy plants are desired. Deadhead individual flowers to maintain plant appearance. Cut back stems to approximately 3-4 inches in late autumn. New growth shoots are slow to emerge in spring. However, once new growth begins, it proceeds quite rapidly. Plants will benefit from regular fertilization during the growing season.
seed, division in spring or fall
full sun to partial shade
moist soil high in organic matter
Mountains, Piedmont, Coastal Plain
Southeastern USA
Life Cycle:
stream, riparian, obligate wetland, bees, hedge, red, fall, salt tolerant, white, butterflies, showy, pink, sun, perennial, wildlife, cpp, host plant, hummingbird, wildflower, specialized bees, wildlife plant, butterfly plant, partial shade, wet, pond, summer, wet soil, wet site

NCCES plant id: 729

Hibiscus moscheutos Hibiscus moscheutos
Hibiscus moscheutos Hibiscus moscheutos