Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

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.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - April 18, 2015

From: Seguin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Cold Hardy Hibiscus for Central Texas
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

What variety of Hibiscus is cold hardy for Central Texas?

ANSWER:

There are several Hibiscus that are native to Texas (but not all of them are hardy to USDA zone 8 for Central Texas). The Native Plant Database on our website has the following native Texas Hibiscus.

Hardy in Central Texas

Hibiscus aculeatus (Comfortroot)

Valued for its attractive flowers, this small-statured mallow blooms in summer and fall. Its flowers are cream colored with a dark red center, the petals appearing pleated with scalloped edges. In moist garden soil, it can live up to 6 years and attain a height of up to 6 bushy feet, though 3 feet is more common.

Plant Delights Nursery list this Hibiscus as hardy to USDA zone 7a.

Hibiscus denudatus (Paleface)

Paleface or rock hibiscus is a small shrub, 1 1/2-3 ft. high, with tiny, fuzzy leaves which drop during periods of drought. Leaves are fine-toothed, 1–1 1/2 inches long and almost as wide. A scraggly, pale plant covered with whitish hairs. Bowl-shaped, white to pinkish-lavender flowers, more deeply colored in the center, bloom in upper leaf axils and along the ends of leafless, erect branches. Inside the pink or lavender cup of a flower stands a brush-like column of stamens and stigma.

These plants seem to have too few leaves. The delicate flowers are small for the genus and lack the flamboyance of ornamental species.

The Aggie Horticulture website at Texas A&M University lists this Hibiscus as USDA zone 7.

Hibiscus grandiflorus (Swamp rosemallow)

The five pink petals of swamp rose-mallow flowers each have a red to purple center, are 4-6 in. long, and surround many stamens. Flowers nod slightly from leaf axils and occur singly. Velvety, alternate leaves are heart-shaped, three-lobed, and toothed. Seed pods are also velvety. This shrub-like, herbaceous to somewhat woody plant grows to 6 ft. tall or more.

Swamp Hibiscus is a member of the mallow family (family Malvaceae) which includes herbs, shrubs, and rarely small trees, often velvety with starlike or branched hairs, the flowers borne singly or in branched clusters. There are about 85 genera and 1,500 species, many in tropical America. Rose-of-Sharon and other Hibiscus, and Hollyhocks are grown as ornamentals. Okra is the edible fruit of one species of Hibiscus, and the hairs of seeds of Gossypium provide the fiber cotton.

Plant Delights Nursery list this Hibiscus as hardy to USDA zone 6a.

Hibiscus laevis (Halberdleaf rosemallow)

The Halberd-leaved rose mallow grows to 6 feet tall with erect stems and leaves. The leaves are alternate and prominently lobed at the base, the lobes wide-spreading and sharp-toothed. Flowers bloom from the axils of the leaves, from the bottom to the top of the stem. The large cup-shaped blossoms, about 3 inches long, are pink, sometimes white, with maroon or purple throats. The 5 overlapping petals open by day and close tightly at night.

The Missouri Botanical Garden list this Hibiscus as hardy to USDA zone 4.

Hibiscus lasiocarpos (Woolly rose-mallow)

An 3-5 ft., upright, hairy perennial with toothed, triangular to heart-shaped leaves and terminal flower clusters. The leaves, toothed and alternate, have long stems, 4–6 inches. Stems are woody and somewhat brittle. The large white (occasionally pinkish) blossoms are 3–4 inches long, with a crimson eye at the center. The petals fold up at night and look as though they had never been open. Stamens extend beyond the flower.

Plant Delights Nursery list this Hibiscus as hardy to USDA zone 5a.

Hibiscus moscheutos (Crimsoneyed rosemallow)

This is a 3-8 ft., shrubby perennial with numerous sturdy stems arising from a single crown. The large, heart-shaped leaves are grayish-green above and hairy-white below. The showy, five-petaled, creamy-white flowers have a conspicuous band of red or burgundy at their bases from which a tubular column of yellow stamens extends.

This strikingly showy species is often found along edges of salt marshes but is more common in upper-valley wetlands.

Plant Delights Nursery list this Hibiscus as hardy to USDA zone 6a.

Hibiscus striatus ssp. lambertianus (Striped rosemallow)

Missouri Botanical Garden list this Hibiscus as hardy to USDA zone 7. Easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun. Tolerates some light shade, but full sun with good air circulation produces best flowers, strongest stems and the best environment for resisting potential diseases. Site in locations protected from wind to minimize the risk of wind burn. Best in moist, organically rich soils (preference for wetlands in native habitat), but does surprisingly well in average garden soils as long as those soils are not allowed to dry out. Regular deep watering is advisable. Plants die to the ground in cold winters but are vigorous rapid growers in spring.

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (Turk's cap)

This spreading shrub, often as broad as high, grows 2-3 ft., sometimes reaching 9 ft. Bright-red, pendant, hibiscus-like flowers never fully open, their petals overlapping to form a loose tube with the staminal column protruding, said to resemble a Turkish turban, hence its most common name, Turks cap. Especially useful in shady situations.

The variety name of this plant is named for Thomas Drummond, (ca. 1790-1835), naturalist, born in Scotland, around 1790. In 1830 he made a trip to America to collect specimens from the western and southern United States. In March, 1833, he arrived at Velasco, Texas to begin his collecting work in that area. He spent twenty-one months working the area between Galveston Island and the Edwards Plateau, especially along the Brazos, Colorado, and Guadalupe rivers. His collections were the first made in Texas that were extensively distributed among the museums and scientific institutions of the world. He collected 750 species of plants and 150 specimens of birds. Drummond had hoped to make a complete botanical survey of Texas, but he died in Havana, Cuba, in 1835, while making a collecting tour of that island.

Texas Superstar Plants lists this Hibiscus as hardy to USDA Zone 7b.

Not hardy in Central Texas

Hibiscus coulteri (Desert rosemallow)

The Aggie Horticulture website at Texas A&M University lists this Hibiscus as USDA zone 9.

Hibiscus martianus (Heartleaf rosemallow)

The Aggie Horticulture website at Texas A&M University lists this Hibiscus as USDA zone 8. (Perhaps is hardy in protected sites?)

 

From the Image Gallery


Comfortroot
Hibiscus aculeatus

Desert rosemallow
Hibiscus coulteri

Paleface
Hibiscus denudatus

Swamp rose-mallow
Hibiscus grandiflorus

Swamp rose-mallow
Hibiscus grandiflorus

Halberdleaf rosemallow
Hibiscus laevis

Woolly rose-mallow
Hibiscus lasiocarpos

Heartleaf rosemallow
Hibiscus martianus

Crimson-eyed rose-mallow
Hibiscus moscheutos

Striped rosemallow
Hibiscus striatus ssp. lambertianus

Turk's cap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Turk's cap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

More Shrubs Questions

Shrubs and small trees for a slope in NY
May 21, 2012 - We are looking for a living wall made of shrubs / small trees - no more than 25' for the top of a steep creek bed. We are looking for the best erosion preventing types.
view the full question and answer

Moisture as trigger for Cenizo bloom
July 17, 2006 - Does the cenizo bloom because it has had water on its leaves and stems?
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in Vacccinum corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
June 28, 2007 - Blueberry plants - We planted Northland and Blue Crop, 2 of each. All 4 plants have some leaves that are turning brown. This starts at the tip of the leaf, eventually encompasses the entire leaf, a...
view the full question and answer

Landscape color for Rialto, CA
May 11, 2009 - My sister-in-law lives in Rialto CA near the base of the San Bernardino Mt ranges and it gets very windy out there. She and I were trying to figure out the best native plants for her area. Her home fa...
view the full question and answer

Short evergreen shrub for Virginia
April 10, 2009 - I have been looking everywhere for an evergreen shrub that is 3-4 ft. in height, non-poisonous to humans, and that thrives in zone 7 to no avail. Please help!
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.