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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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Saturday - August 13, 2005

From: Lawrence, KS
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Native or non-native hibiscus for Kansas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I recently purchased a 10" Hibiscus flowering plant and would like to know how to care for it. How much water and sunlight does it need and how long I can expect it to live? It is a beautiful plant and let's just say I don't exactly have a green thumb!

ANSWER:

There are two species of Hibiscus that are native to Kansas: Scarlet rose mallow (Hibiscus laevis) and Crimson-eyed rose mallow (H. moscheutos). If you select "Growing Conditions" from the menu at the top of the page for each flower, you will see that both grow well in part shade, require lots of water and a moist soil. For H. laevis the soil needs to be acidic; while for H. moscheutos, the soil should be alkaline. Both should do well growing outdoors.

If, however, you have bought one of the non-native tropical species of Chinese hibiscus (H. rosa-sinensis) or Rose of Sharon or Shrub Althea (H. syriacus) the care requirements will be different and they may, or may not, do well outside in the Kansas winter.
 

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