They love a wet site and are native to marshes, swamps, and floodplains, and also do fine in average garden soil, as long as it does not dry out. They form the best blooms with full sun and are usually deer tolerant. Clay, muck, and shallow standing soil are usually not a problem.
Place them in the back of a perennial border, along the edge of a pond or stream, or in a mass with other moist tolerant grasses, joe pye and ironweed.
Reaches up to 7’ tall but can easily be nipped back in spring to control height. Blooms range from white to pink, most commonly white with a red center. Each flower lasts for one to two days, and it usually keeps blooming from July through September.
They support many pollinators including bumblebees and long-tongued bees. It even has its own specialist pollinator – the Rose Mallow bee. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird visits for nectar, and other insects feed on various parts of Rose Mallows.
They are attractive to Japanese beetles, which create lacework out of their leaves. You can choose to pick them off or admire their handiwork.
Caterpillars of Common Checkered Skipper and the Painted Lady butterfly also feed on the leaves, which is why you should not spray this hibiscus with a general pesticide. You’ll kill the good with the bad.
Caterpillars of the Gray Hairstreak Butterfly feed on the developing seeds. The caterpillars of several moths feed on this hibiscus, including the delightfully named Delightful Bird-Dropping Moth, Yellow Scallop Moth, the Io Moth, and the Pearly Wood Nymph.
This species is native a bit farther south than our area, but is hardy to zone 6. It’s flowers are scarlet with pointed tips. It stays slightly shorter than H. moscheutos. It, too, attracts hummingbirds and pollinators. Information on specific bee and insect species that depend on this species is harder to find. Do some observation and let us know!
Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Disco Belle Red’ (not in stock as of Fall 2022)
This is a selection of H. moscheutos that stays to a compact height of 2 – 2.5 feet, yet still bears huge flowers. Perfect for the landscape that wants to support pollinators with shorter species. Butterflies and pollinators are known to visit this plant.
Whichever Hibiscus you choose, you will surely be stunned by their beauty. Stop by today.
Photo Credits: Bird Dropping Moth: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren Flickr Commons; Wooly Nymph caterpillar Judy Gallagher Flickr Commons