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These giant hibiscus flowers love the heat.

These giant hibiscus flowers love the heat

When other flowers are flagging in the heat, Hibiscus moscheutos (also known as rose mallow) puts on an impressive display of huge, colorful flowers all summer long. A relative of tropical hibiscus, this perennial bears similar blooms, but much larger--up to 12 inches across.

The picture above shows a seed-grown strain called Southern Belle. Plants reach 4 feet, with flowers of mixed colors of cerise, pink, rose, and white. Others to try from seed are 2- to 2 1/2-foot-tall Disco Belle, Frisbee, or Dwarf Rio Carnival, or 3- to 6-foot-tall Super Giants.

Started from seed in early May, the plants will be ready to go into the ground about July (if it's hot, shade transplants until they're established).

Since seed packets contain mixed colors, new plants of individual colors can be started by taking stem cuttings from your favorites in August. Dip the cuttings in rooting hormone, then plant in flats or small pots containing a mixture of potting soil and perlite. A couple of weeks later, when the cuttings have rooted, transfer them into 4-inch pots until they're sturdy enough to go into the ground.

When plants stop blooming and look ragged in fall, cut them to the ground. The next May, they'll resprout from the roots. If you can't find seeds on nursery racks. order them by mail--they're in almost all seed catalogs. Some nurseries also carry rose mallow in 1-gallon ($4 to $5) and 5-gallon ($15 to $18) containers.

Photo: Gigantic Southern Belle strain develops blooms continuously through summer. Plants reach 3 to 4 feet tall
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Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:rose mallow
Date:May 1, 1988
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