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Mr. Smarty Plants - Can a hibiscus survive in Wyoming?

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Thursday - June 09, 2011

From: Riverton, WY
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Planting
Title: Can a hibiscus survive in Wyoming?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can a hibiscus survive in Wyoming if it is taken care of properly? If so, can you tell me how to make it happen?

ANSWER:

You might be able to grow a hibiscus in a pot, bring it in during the winter, and see if it would come back up in the warm weather; in other words, treat it as an annual. There are 12 members of the Hibiscus family native to North America, none of which is native to Wyoming. We did, however, look at the 12 native hibiscus in our Native Plant Database and found Hibiscus laevis (Halberdleaf rosemallow) which grows as close to Wyoming as Nebraska, and as far north as Minnesota and Ontario.

From our database, we got this information about Halberdleaf rosemallow:

Native Distribution: Moist low-lying areas from North Central Texas to the Edwards Plateau.
Native Habitat: Marshes

and

Soil Description: Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Acid-based, Calcareous

And therein lies the rub. Acidic soil tends to occur most often in areas where deciduous trees and conifers have been dropping their trees/leaves for centuries and that organic material has decomposed to form an acidic soil. Why its native habitat is North Central Texas and the Edwards Plateau we can't say, because those are mostly alkaline soils, which we are also thinking you might have in Wyoming, as does a great deal of the Western United States.

In this  Floridata aticle we found another comment on the habitat of this plant:

"Hibiscus laevis occurs naturally in swamps, marshes, ditches and along water bodies in eastern Canada and central and eastern U.S., south to northern Florida and Texas."

Now, you asked us how to make it happen. You can't make a plant, even if it's well adapted to where you have it, grow and persist. If you can buy this or a closely similar hibiscus in your area, we suggest that you get one, and give it a one year's trial. It is deciduous, so you can plant it in the ground, let it die back, trim down the stems leaving a few so you know where your plant is, and then start watering it again as the weather warms. Don't fertilize until it is time for it to begin leafing out again, and don't use a high-nitrogen fertilizer, because that inspires more leaf growth and less blossom. You will be running an experimental laboratory on what you can grow in Wyoming.

 

From the Image Gallery


Halberdleaf rosemallow
Hibiscus laevis

Halberdleaf rosemallow
Hibiscus laevis

Halberdleaf rosemallow
Hibiscus laevis

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