Swamp Hibiscus Outshines Its Name

Swamp hibiscus red flowers in full bloom

This past August, my neighbor called me over and said, “I want you to see this swamp hibiscus – isn’t it the most gorgeous thing?” Now, it isn’t often that you hear the words “swamp” and “gorgeous” in the same sentence, but in this case she’s right.

About Swamp Hibiscus

Also known as the Scarlet Rose Mallow or Texas Star, the swamp hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) is native to the east coast of the U.S. It’s one of the most spectacular native plants, with incredible, large red flowers that naturally thrive in wetlands and ditches. This spring, try sowing some seeds for a spot of brilliant perennial color in your garden.

How to Grow Swamp Hibiscus

Here’s how to grow swamp hibiscus in your yard or garden:

  • Planting Zone: Swamp hibiscus grows in zones 7-10.
  • Planting Habit: Swamp hibiscus is a large herbaceous perennial, so it dies completely down in winter and sprouts fresh each spring.
  • Flowers: Swamp hibiscus blooms in mid to late summer through early fall. Each bloom only lasts a day or so, but they put on a successive show that’ll keep you coming back each day to see what’s new.
  • Swamp Hibiscus flower

  • Size: Swamp hibiscus is unusually large for a perennial, growing up to 7-12 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide. The plants are tall and leggy, with five or more stems coming out of the ground.
  • Growing Conditions: Swamp hibiscus do best in full sun and mildly acidic soil. Great for low-lying soggy areas or around water features but will grow in normal garden soil, too, as long as it gets plenty of water.
  • Growing Tips: For a more compact and bushy plant, prune the first sprouts of the swamp hibiscus back to encourage branching. Or, simply plant at the back of the garden and allow it to reach its full height, supporting with stakes if needed. Once the swamp hibiscus has been killed by frost, cut the stalks down the ground and add them to your compost pile.
  • Other Benefits: Swamp hibiscus is attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and birds. It’s easy to grow from seed, and you can save the seeds for sharing. You can also propagate swamp hibiscus by division.

Further Information