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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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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Saturday - October 20, 2012

From: Lubbock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Pruning of Desert Hibiscus Coulteri from Lubbock, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We have in our garden this year 2 volunteer Desert Hibiscus Coulteri----quite lanky! I notice on your website under "comments" someone notes they should be cut back "nearly to the ground" to promote a bushier habit. Can you elaborate please? Should we wait til after first frost or before? Should we leave any branches showing? Can you offer any guidance? We do like this beautiful plant but we're eager to encourage bushy-ness! Thanks very much!

ANSWER:

If you follow this plant link, Hibiscus coulteri (Coulter hibiscus), to our webpage on this plant you will learn just about all we know about this plant, including that it blooms from May to November, and that it is considered a "straggling" plant, as opposed to bushy. Another comment on that page:

"This plant should be cut back nearly to the base each winter to encourage a bushier habit and more blooms. Coulter hibiscus flowers during the hottest part of the season when other plants are not showy. It is short-lived, but reseeds freely."

Acccording to this USDA Plant Profile Map, the closest this plant grows naturally to Lubbock County, in the Texas Panhandle, is Pecos County, which is in the far west Texas/Big Bend area.

For more information, here is an article on this plant from Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert, which might lead us to suspect that whoever gave this the common name of Desert Hibiscus wasn't kidding. Lubbock is pretty arid, though, so we think it will do all right if you be careful that the roots are getting good drainage, do not overwater and it will probably be just fine.

 

From the Image Gallery


Desert rosemallow
Hibiscus coulteri

Desert rosemallow
Hibiscus coulteri

Desert rosemallow
Hibiscus coulteri

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