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Rose mallow, or Hibiscus moscheutos, is a type of plant that is often referred to as a dinner plate hibiscus because of the large, dish-sized flowers that it produces. This tall, cold-hardy perennial is native to wetlands and riversides in the southeastern United States. The showy flowers that it produces can be as large as 10-12 inches (25.4-30.5 cm) in diameter and are said to be among the largest flowers of any perennial plant. It’s no wonder that butterflies are attracted to its striking flowers.
Plants in the hibiscus family include tropical hibiscus, perennials and hardy shrubs such as the dinner plate hibiscus. This variety is fast growing and tall. These plants can reach 3-8 feet (0.9-2.4 m) in height, depending on the cultivar.
In general, hibiscus plants are characterized by their large and flashy flowers, and the dinner plate hibiscus is no exception. Some flowers are a solid color from the tip of their petals to the eye, and many varieties feature a dark or red eye surrounding a pistil and stamen. They’re a five-pedaled flower, and some varieties are heavily ruffled. The colors are also impressive. The range spans from whites, pinks, reds and even lavender blooms against dark green foliage.
Although dinner plate hibiscus grows primarily in the southeastern U.S., this plant can be found as far north as southern Ontario, Canada, and west to the Pacific Coast of the U.S. Normally, the first blooms appear in mid-summer and last until the first hard frost. The plants grow well in full sun and need a minimum of six hours of sun per day.
During the dry, hot summer months, these plants will need to be mulched to keep in the moisture. Even though they grows naturally in wetlands, ornamental shrubs do better in well-drained, loamy, sandy or clay soils. The plant also prefers an acidic to slightly alkaline soil.
Hibiscuses, in general, can be easily propagated from seed, cuttings or root divisions, although they can be readily found in most home and garden centers. Generally, these plants require little care after they are established. In the home garden, they do respond well to a 10-10-10 mix fertilizer in the spring. Although they are a water-loving plant, they shouldn’t be over-watered until they’ve started showing some growth. These plants are susceptible to crown rot, root rot, leaf spot, rust, canker and blight.
Like most flowering plants, they will bloom more when the old blooms are removed. This deadheading will encourage more growth and promote blooming. The dinner plate hibiscus will die back to the ground during the winter but will grow bloom again in next summer with a little work.