By Phran Novelli
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A plant with flowers so huge they can stop traffic – that’s our native Hibiscus moschuetos also called Rose Mallow or Swamp Mallow. Unlike tropical hibiscus – those potted plants with shiny leaves that die in our winters unless you bring them inside – our native hardy Hibiscus regrows each year to the size of a shrub – with flowers ranging from the size of your hand to the size of your head. Really.
The first hibiscus I planted is a cultivar that produces hundreds of big pink flowers with a reddish eye, and from that plant’s seeds grew a new plant. So now, next to my pink hibiscus, there’s one with red flowers! That’s because the seeds of Hibiscus cultivars don’t grow ‘true to seed’ as gardeners say, that means that the baby plants don’t always look exactly like the parent but, instead, might have the flower color of one of the grandparent plants that created the cultivar instead – in this case pink or white or red.
But even if you don’t grow any from seed, having a hardy native Hibiscus in your yard that comes back every year putting out flowers the size of dinner plates is pretty pleasing.