Dinner Plate Hibiscus: A Hardy Perennial with Giant, Tropical Flowers (Hibiscus moscheutos)

“Dinner Plate” Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos) is a cold-hardy, herbaceous, flowering perennial plant grown for its huge, show-stopping blooms. Fresh leafy shoots sprout from the ground in late spring, quickly creating a small rounded form. The flowers are huge, 8″-12″ wide blossoms, most often in pinks, whites, or reds. Native to the USA, dinner plate hibiscus plants are hardy in zones 4-9.

dinner plate hibiscus - pink, white, and red hardy hibiscus

About Dinner Plate Hardy Hibiscus

Dinner plate hibiscus is also called hardy hibiscus, perennial hibiscus, herbaceous hibiscus, giant hibiscus, rose mallow, and swamp rose mallow. The latin name for dinner plate hibiscus is Hibiscus moscheutos, part of the mallow family Malvaceae. Dinner plate hibiscus plants are native to eastern North America.

Hibiscus moscheutos is a herbaceous perennial plant, meaning that the foliage dies back to the ground each fall, and then sprouting fresh new shoots the following spring. Hardy dinner plate hibiscus plants are one of the very last herbaceous perennials to break dormancy and sprout up in the spring. In my Zone 5 garden, the first signs of sprouts is often not until the end of May (or even early June).

Child holding pink dinner plate hibiscus flower up to smell scent in garden

Dinner plate hibiscus is almost always grown for its very large showy flowers. They look tropical, even though they’re hardy to frosty, snow-covered Zone 4! Hibiscus moscheutos typically flowers from July-September. Each flower only lasts a couple days, but a single plant produces dozens of flowers. Most dinner plate hibiscus have green foliage, but some modern cultivars do have deep purple or nearly black foliage.

Hibiscus moscheutos, commonly known as hardy hibiscus or swamp rose mallow, is a vigorous, sturdy, rounded, somewhat shrubby, hairy-stemmed, woody-based perennial of the mallow family. It typically grows to 3-7’ tall and to 2-4’ wide. It is native to wet spots (marshes, swamps, floodplains, river banks, moist meadows, and moist woods) from Ontario and Massachusetts south to Ohio, Indiana, Alabama and Florida.

Hibiscus moscheutos, Missouri Botanical Garden

“Its flowers span up to 12 inches wide, beckoning fliers of all types, and last from early summer until the first frost. Plant this stunner in rich, moist soil in a sunny site.”

Gardening for Birds, Butterflies, and Bees: Everything you Need to Know to Create a Wildlife Habitat in your Backyard, by the Editors of Birds & Blooms Magazine
Bright pink giant hardy herbaceous hibiscus flower

Dinner Plate Hardy Hibiscus Cultivars & Hybrids

Here are some of the more common types of dinner plate hibiscus grown in home gardens:

Summerific® by Proven Winners Rose Mallow (Dinner Plate Hibiscus)

Head Over Heels® Series Hibiscus

Summer Spice® Series of Hardy Hibiscus

Luna Series of Hardy Hibiscus

Monrovia Hibiscus moscheutos

Other Dinner Plate Hibiscus Types

  • Summer in Paradise (bright pink)
  • Airbrush Effect (bright pink)
  • Brandy Punch (pink)
  • Lady Baltimore (pink)
  • Carousel™ Pink Passion (pink)
  • Peppermint Schnapps (pink)
  • Disco Belle Pink (soft pink)
  • Pink Candy (pink and white)
  • Southern Belle (pink and white)
  • Disco Belle (white and pink)
  • Cherry Cheesecake (white and pink)
  • Mocha Moon (white and pink)
  • Disco Belle White (white)
  • Dark Mystery (white)
  • Blue River II (white)
  • Lord Baltimore (red)
  • Summer Carnival (red)
  • Plum Fantasy (red)
  • Mars Madness (red)
  • Midnight Marvel (red)
  • Vintage Wine (red)
  • Cherry Brandy (red)
  • Fireball (red)
  • Fantasia (red)

Hibiscus moscheutos L. (Malvaceae) is native to marshes in the eastern United States from Massachusets to Michagin and south to Albama and Georgia. The horticultural hybrids are variable crosses between Hibiscus moscheutos, H. coccineus, and H. militaris, but are often listed as cultivars of Hibiscus moscheutos (Clausen 1989).

Hibiscus moscheutos Cultivars and Horticultural Hybrids, by Richard G. Hawke, Chicago Botanic Garden
Hardy Hibiscus Plant - Summer in Paradise

Tips for Planting Dinner Plate Hardy Hibiscus Plants (Hibiscus moscheutos)

Here are the basics for planting dinner plate hardy hibiscus plants:

  • Choose a site with full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).
  • Choose a site somewhat protected from wind.
  • Choose rich soil high in organic matter when possible.
  • Choose soil that is naturally moist or easily watered.
  • Dig a planting hole 2x as wide as pot, but no deeper.
  • The plant soil level should line up level with the surrounding soil.
  • Feed with a top-dressing of homemade compost or organic fertilizer.
  • Cover the surrounding soil with organic mulch.

Here is a video I made today about planting hardy hibiscus in the garden:

…Now I can’t wait for these new-to-me varieties to bloom!

Pink flower at dusk in front of weeping willow

Tips for Growing Dinner Plate Perennial Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos)

Here are the basics for growing and caring for dinner plate perennial hibiscus:

  • Spring shoots are slow to break dormancy and emerge. It may take until June to see them sprout up from the ground.
  • Ensure moist soil throughout the summer. The ground should be consistently damp, not soggy or dry.
  • Plants that aren’t flowering well may need more sun. Hibiscus moscheutos is quite heat tolerant.
  • Deadheading spent blooms is common.
  • Cut stems down to 6″ long in late fall (after frost) or in early spring.
hardy hibiscus foliage emerging in june (late to break dormancy)
Here is a hardy hibiscus plant in mid-June. Sometimes they don’t even sprout out of the ground until the end of May or beginning of June (terrifying). This plant will start growing its lovely dinner-plate-sized blooms in late July or August.
Dinner plate hardy hibiscus pink flower with blue sky
Dinner Plate Hibiscus flower with dark foliage in the garden
Starry Starry Night Rose Mallow
Hardy Hibiscus - berry awesome - summerific - at nursery
Table of hardy hibiscus plants for $30 each at plant nursery

Mary Jane

Mary Jane is a home gardener who loves creating healthy, welcoming spaces (indoors and out!) - About Mary Jane (https://www.homefortheharvest.com/authors/about-mary-jane-duford/)

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