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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Sunday - June 14, 2009

From: Idaho Falls, ID
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Non-Natives, Seasonal Tasks
Title: Winter-hardiness of hibiscus in Idaho
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe

QUESTION:

I bought a hibiscus tree at Sam's Club in Idaho Falls and after planting it, I read the label which says not to go below 50 degrees. Does that mean it is an inside or potted tree to bring in in the winter? Will it die if left planted outside for the Idaho Winter?

ANSWER:

At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, our mission is to educate people about their native plants, encouraging their use in the landscape. According to The Native Plant Database, there are no hibiscus varieties native to Idaho, and that puts your question out of our real area of expertise.

However, if your plant is not rated for below 50 degrees F, it won't make it through the winter outdoors in Idaho Falls, which is in Zone 5-6 and experiences a cold, continental-climate winter. If it is a tropical hibiscus (Glossy, ovate leaves are characteristic of tropical hibiscus.), even indoors it will probably require some winter supplementary light that far north. Here is a site that provides some advice on growing tropical hibiscus in a northern climate.

 

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