On Gardening: 2021: The year of the hardy hibiscus


The National Garden Bureau has declared 2021 “The Year of the Hardy Hibiscus” and The Garden Guy thinks this is absolutely terrific. Actually, I would go a-step further and say it is Summerific!

By hardy hibiscus, the bureau is referring to those with native DNA. You may not be aware but the hardy hibiscus commonly referred to as rose mallow is native to 33 states and Canada. Though you may see those long-lost cousins growing in the ditches and swampy areas, breeders have applied their magic and created dazzling selections.

Such is the case with the Summerific series from Proven Winners. It now boasts almost a dozen choices for summer-lasting bloom. These incredible varieties can let you create a dose of tropical splendor just about anywhere from zone 4-9. On the other hand, if you want to add a colorful flash to grandma’s cottage garden then the Summerific hibiscuses can do that too!

I’ve been growing Summerific Holy Grail for a few years now and I could not be more thrilled. It is one of their taller varieties sporting deep red blooms and dark foliage. Whether I have it in proximity to palms and bananas or as partners to rudbeckias and salvias, it has lived up to the task.

The next ones coming to my garden will be Cranberry Crush and Berry Awesome. Cranberry Crush is a Classic City Award Winner in the University of Georgia trial program and features topical looking scarlet red flowers on a 48-inch-tall plant with a backdrop of deep green maple-like leaves. It will bring in bees and hummers, which makes The Garden Guy do the happy dance.

Berry Awesome has ruffled deep lavender pink flowers with a cheery red eye. You would love this with perennial echinacea like Yellow My Darling or the Price is White. Don’t forget to add a drift or two of salvias. I can only imagine Rockin Blue Suede Shoes and Rockin Deep Purple as companions.

This year there are two new colors entering the market place and they are Summerific French Vanilla and Spinderella. It’s not often we find a creamy vanilla color to add to the perennial garden. It reminds me of the color of old-fashioned ice cream with a red eye.

Last year my university friends were sending me photos from trial gardens and giving a WOW to Spinderella. I’m not sure how to describe this one. The ruffled flowers are white with a cherry eye and major brushstrokes of rose pink as you go toward the margins. The flowers look to have more-pink and giving the illusion that it just could be spinning.

The whole Summerific series is so beautiful it is really amazing these are hardy hibiscus, perennial from zones 4-9. Almost everyone can relish in their beauty. Choose a site with plenty of sunlight – the more the better. I have morning sun and filtered afternoon light here in west Georgia. The hibiscus blooms on new growth, so it is important to keep it growing vigorously throughout the season. Keep them well fed and watered during droughty periods.

You will not need a super-bloom fertilizer however, just use a slow released, balanced fertilizer given out in regular small monthly applications. Water daily if you are growing in containers during the summer. Nutrients will quickly leach from the soil, so apply a dilute, water-soluble fertilizer weekly or add controlled release granules per label recommendation.

The National Garden Bureau hit a homerun with the designation of 2021 as The Year of the Hardy Hibuscus. You’ll think so too if you try some of the Summerific Series.

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