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HIBISCUS mutabilis

Image of Hibiscus mutabilis

Grandiflora

Family

Malvaceae

Botanical Name

HIBISCUS mutabilis

Plant Common Name

Confederate-rose, Cotton-rose

General Description

Large maple-like leaves are a handsome foil for confederate rose's flowers as they change from white to pink and finally red-pink in one day. Although an evergreen large shrub native to China, it has long been a staple of gardens in the American South, the reason it is called the confederate rose or cotton rose.

It is a tall, rounded shrub with sparse branches and large three to seven lobed leaves covered by tiny hairs that make them feel fuzzy and look dull dark green or grayish green. Flowering occurs on the new stems beginning as early as late spring, depending on climate. The five-petaled white flowers open in small clusters or alone. The flowers age from white to pink, and eventually to a red-pink or lavender-blue. Often all these colors are present on the shrub as new and old blossoms both are displayed.

Grow the confederate rose in full sun in a moist, fertile soil that has good drainage. It is tolerant of partial sun exposures and poorer soils, but the overall plant shape and flowering will likely be reduced. Since flowering occurs only on new growth, and stems tend to look quite coarse or leggy, plan on pruning back the shrub annually in early spring to allow it to come back full and dense. In subtropical, frost-free areas it will easily become a small tree and remain evergreen. The plant will become deciduous after a frost, dropping its leaves. With hard freezes the stems die back to the ground. To promote continued flowering, remove the developing hairy seed capsules.

Use confederate rose as an accent shrub in the mixed border or spacious foundation bed, or as an informal hedge or screen. There are cultivars available like the red of 'Rubrus' or white of 'Albus.'

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    7 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    8'-12' / 2.4m - 3.7m

  • Width

    6'-10' / 1.8m - 3.0m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall, Fall, Late Fall

  • Native To

    China

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Pollution, Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Pink, Light Pink, Rose, Gray, Silver

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Foundation, Hedges, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes