News Release Distributed 05/09/14By Allen Owings LSU AgCenter horticulturist
HAMMOND, La. – Hibiscus is a large family of plants. It includes okra, cotton, tropical hibiscus, althea (rose of Sharon), rose mallow and many more. Among this large group, several have ornamental potential in the landscape.
One of those is the hardy rose mallow-type hibiscus.
The LSU AgCenter is continuing a long-term evaluation trial of hardy hibiscus, primarily Hibiscus moscheutos, at the Hammond Research Station. These are what we typically refer to as the “dinner plate” hibiscus or sometimes by the old variety name Disco Belle. Southern Belle is another older variety. Native to roadside ditches around Louisiana, these are one of the hibiscus species called rose mallow or marsh hibiscus.
One of the outstanding groups is the Luna series. These hibiscuses are seed-propagated and were developed by PanAmerican Seed. The Luna series has been on the market for a number of years now and provides growers with a seed-source option, as opposed to the majority of plants in this group being available only through cuttings or vegetative propagation.
The Luna series hibiscus has proven to be such a great landscape performer that it is the last of the LSU AgCenter Louisiana Super Plant selections for spring 2014. All four colors of the Luna series – red, rose, white and pink swirl – are designated as Super Plants. Luna Pink Swirl seems to be a favorite.
Previous Louisiana Super Plant selections this spring are the Kauai series torenia (wishbone flower) and Flutterby Petite Tutti Fruitti Pink butterfly bush.
Luna hibiscuses produce 7- to 8-inch flowers on dwarf, compact-growing plants. Plants branch well and reach heights of only 36 inches with a similar spread. Luna hibiscus performs best in full sun. They start blooming in late spring and will continue until mid-September.
These are well adapted to a wide range of soil types, and drainage is not important. Plants handle wet soil but also tolerate being grown on the dry side. They can be used in containers in addition to mass planting in landscape beds.
Luna hibiscuses are especially heat-tolerant and can be planted anytime from midspring through the mid- to late summer. Plants can be lightly dead-headed (old flowers and seed pods removed) to encourage longer bloom into fall.
Try some of these great Luna series hardy hibiscuses this year. They will perform great for you and will be attention-getters in the landscape.
You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.
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