Create a Tropical Paradise with Hardy Hibiscus

You can create your own Tropical Paradise with the Delicious Hues of Summer Spice® Hardy Hibiscus!

Creating a tranquil tropical escape for summer staycations may seem daunting, especially if you garden in northern zones. After all, the spectacular blooms and lush foliage of tender tropical plants last a fleeting season when winter freezes arrive. If you’re looking for the perfect plant to give your garden a tropical vibe—even in zones where winter freezes reign—you’ll love the addition of Summer Spice® hardy hibiscus

Much like their tender, warm-weather cousins, Hollywood® Hibiscus, hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus x moscheutes) blooms add a sultry, summer resort-feel to your garden, perfect for lounging by the pool or adding a vacation atmosphere to outdoor entertaining spaces. But unlike tropical hibiscus, these hardy shrubs bloom beautifully year after year, with most plants hardy in zones 5-9.

Creating a Gorgeous Tropical Escape with Hardy Hibiscus

New compact size Hardy Hibiscus series like Summer Spice® make them the perfect addition to borders, mixed perennial beds, or container gardens. Planting multiple hardy hibiscus plants together creates a stunning hedge in the landscape. The gorgeous blooms provide perfect pops of colors all summer long—and the 8 to 10-inch flowers offer a conversation-starter that will get the neighbors talking about you—in a good way! The flowers’ unusual color palette adds a unique focal point in any garden setting, while the deeply incised foliage complements the blooms with texture and interest in garden spaces.

Summer Spice® Plum Flambe Hardy Hibiscus has sizzling purple blooms - National Garden Bureau
Summer Spice® Plum Flambe™
Sizzling purple booms
Summer Spice® • Blue Brulee™--smoky, steel-blue blooms with red centers - National Garden Bureau
Summer Spice® Blue Brulee™
Smoky, steel-blue blooms with red centers

Flower Colors for Your Tropical Paradise

Most hardy hibiscus blooms are limited to red, white, or pink hues. New series like Summer Spice® include a wider range of flower colors. The dinner-plate-sized flowers in interesting, diverse hues add a stunning focal point to your tropical paradise landscapes, while the pretty foliage creates great texture and serves as a beautiful backdrop to mixed plantings.

Create your own Tropical Paradise with Rosé Soufflé – striking pink blooms with wine centers - National Garden Bureau
Summer Spice® Rosé Soufflé
Striking pink blooms with wine centers
Perfect for your tropical paradiseCrème de la Cocoa™--chocolate-red flowers with darker eyes Hardy Hibiscus - National Garden Bureau
Summer Spice® Crème de la Cocoa™
Chocolate-red flowers with darker eyes

Where to Plant Hardy Hibiscus

Choose a sunny site with at least six hours of sun daily for the best blooms. Hardy hibiscus prefer well-drained, acidic soil and appreciate moist, but not soggy, sites. If your garden soil is comprised primarily of clay, amend it with organic matter before planting. Check the soil often to ensure your hibiscus is well-hydrated. A layer of mulch surrounding the base of the plant helps retain moisture in the soil, plus a deep layer of mulch protects the plant’s roots from harsh winter temperatures.

The compact growth habit of the newest series of Hardy Hibiscus makes them a terrific choice for a layered landscape. They stay nicely contained and don’t take over a garden bed plus they work well in a mixed perennial planting or paired with annuals along a walkway. The stunning colors of the flowers pop prettily against an evergreen hedge or use the plants alone as a focal point in a garden bed or container.

To keep it looking its best, feed Summer Spice® hibiscus with a balanced granular fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 formula. While hardy hibiscus prefer full sun to look their best, in intense southern heat they appreciate a bit of afternoon shade during the hottest part of the day. The low-maintenance plants perform beautifully without fuss. They’ll die back in the winter and reappear with new growth in spring. Warm weather is their wake-up call, so don’t fret if your hardy hibiscus appears later than other early emerging perennials—they’ll join the show soon! Feel free to cut back dead stems to tidy the garden.

Beginner Tip for the New Gardener

Hardy Hibiscus prefer acidic soil, so consider checking your soil’s pH with a soil test before planting. If the soil is more alkaline, add peat moss to your site or plant in a container.

What to Plant with Hardy Hibiscus

Stunning hardy hibiscus blooms steal the show in your Tropical Paradise garden, so what can you plant with it to compliment the dramatic flowers? When choosing companions for hardy hibiscus, make sure to select plants that thrive in the same environment. Look for plants that like full sun and moist, well-drained soil. If you want to feature the beautiful blooms of hardy hibiscus, select low-growing plants, like sweet potato vines, to focus on the fabulous flowers. If you want to create a rich, mixed planting, consider adding sun-loving monarda, daylilies, Joe Pye weed, caladium, or miscanthus for a richly textured, layered planting. Remember: newer series like the Summer Spice® hardy hibiscus stays nicely compact, so choose companions that won’t overpower their size.

If you’re still baffled about what to plant with hardy hibiscus, make your life easy: choose a few favorite colors, and plant them together. Hardy hibiscus plants like the Summer Spice® varieties look great planted in masses or combined with complementary or analogous colors. Bleu Brulee™ and Plum Flambe™ are perfect for a cool-tone-themed landscape, while Crepe Suzette™ and Pink Champagne™ look lovely when trying to achieve a bright, bold garden look. When considering other plants to pair with your hardy hibiscus, consider the dark foliage and complimentary bloom time of Black Diamond® Crape Myrtles for a gorgeous backdrop. Or continue the tropical vibe with Cabana Canna®, available in yellow, pink, cream, and red hues.

Beginner Tip for the New Gardener

Hardy hibiscus may take a while to wake up in the spring, especially in northern climates, so don’t worry if new growth doesn’t appear right away.

Tropical Paradise Staycation Retreat

If you’re ready to turn your backyard into a Tropical Paradise staycation retreat, or even if you just love bold, dramatic blooms that cause neighbors to do a double-take when passing your front yard, you’ll love the easy, low-maintenance addition of hardy hibiscus like Summer Spice® in your garden.

Written By NGB Member: J. Berry Nurseries

“This post is provided as an inspirational service of the National Garden Bureau and our members. Please credit and link to National Garden Bureau and author member when using all or parts of this article.”

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