When Does Hibiscus Bloom and How Long Do They Last?
Are you unsure how long you can expect your hibiscus blooms to last this season, or when you can expect to see their first beautiful flowers? In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss examines the bloom times of hibiscus plants, and how long you can expect their blooms to actually last.
They say a watched pot never boils, but what about a watched plant? When eagerly waiting for a new plant to announce its blooming season, it’s nice to have a ballpark idea of when to start the countdown.
Hibiscus plants are such bountiful bloomers that their blooming season is always a welcome event. In full bloom, a hibiscus plant is a wonderful sight to behold. Hibiscus plants produce huge blooms, some up to 12’ in diameter. These massive flowers come in a wide range of shades including pink, red, white, yellow, orange, purple, blue, and quite a few combinations of those colors.
In addition to their wide range of colors and sizes, hibiscus flowers also come in different petal formations. The classic, single-petal form blooms are a must-have for any tropical garden. Additionally, semi-double and fully double petal form varieties add personality and flare with their showy, ruffled flower show.
If you are thinking about adding a hibiscus plant to your garden, or have done so recently, you might be wondering when you can expect to see some of those beautiful blooms, and how long they will last. When, how often, and how long a hibiscus will bloom has much to do with the species of hibiscus, and the climate surrounding it.
The Short Answer
Hibiscus flowers bloom for one day, although some hybrids have been bred to have longer-lasting blooms, with some lasting up to three days. In terms of the length of blooming seasons, some hardy species bloom for only 2-3 weeks, and some for 2-3 months, typically during the summer months. Tropical hibiscuses can bloom nearly year-round.
The Long Answer
With more than 200 species of hibiscus plants in the world, it is difficult to give a one-size-fits-all response to the question of blooming habits for these plants.
The greatest divergence lies between those hibiscuses that are tropical and those that are cold hardy. Let’s take a look at some of the more commonly cultivated species, and what to expect from each of them in terms of blooming habits.
Tropical Hibiscus (H. rosa-sinensis)
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is an evergreen species that is native to Tropical Asia. These plants typically grow to heights of around 10’ tall at maturity. They are moderate to fast growers and are widely known for their beautiful, tropical flowers.
Tropical hibiscus blooms range in size from 2”-10” in diameter and come in a range of colors. There are both single and double-petal varieties. These flowers typically open for only one day each. While that may sound like a disappointing plant, they produce so many flowers that the plant rarely skips a beat, and where one flower dies another springs up right behind it.
This species is not frost tolerant, so if it is grown outside of zones 9-12, it will need to come indoors during the colder months. They are the most common hibiscus to be grown in containers. These plants prefer to stay above 50°F and will show signs of damage at around 35°F.
Tropical hibiscus plants can bloom year-round when planted in tropical and subtropical climates. Most of them will take a brief dormancy during the coolest months because of the temperature and shortened daylight hours.
When kept as a potted plant, expect to see these plants bloom mainly in spring and summer, with a brief dormant period that is generally brought on by a shortening of daylight hours. Tropical hibiscuses are sun lovers and will produce the most flowers when they get a minimum of 6 hours per day.
Orange Sunset Wind is a stunning variety of H. rosa-sinensis. Its creamsicle-colored blooms are 6” wide, with a sweet pink eye in the center. Two shades of pink create a tie-dye effect with the deeper fuchsia in the center and the lighter, powdery pink shade extending soft rays into the orange petals.
There are several species of cold hardy hibiscus that are commonly cultivated and loved for their rapid growth habit.
These plants die back to the ground in winter, but they come back full force in the spring, producing tons of flowers in the summer months, with some varieties blooming into the fall as well.
Hibiscus syriacus, also known as the Rose of Sharon, is a fast-growing species that can reach heights up to 12’ tall over one growing season.
There are varieties that produce single-petal form flowers, and others that produce double-petal-form flowers. These easy-care plants will continue to produce a bounty of blooms year after year, with only a rudimentary amount of attention.
These plants have blooming periods ranging from a few weeks to a few months, with July and August being the months that see the greatest number of blooms.
Some flowers last up to three days. Early-growing varieties may begin to bloom in late spring, while most will start to flower in midsummer, bringing a splash of color as most flowering plants are finishing up their blooming seasons,
Blueberry Smoothie is a spectacular bloomer. It begins blooming in early summer and doesn’t quit until the first frost. It produces 4” wide, lavender-blue flowers in fully double-petal form. These peony-shaped blooms are almost too pretty to be real.
H. mutabilis goes by the name Confederate Rose in most circles. This species is known for its color-changing habits. The flowers have the uncanny and unusual ability to change colors over the course of the day.
Flowers will emerge white in the morning and gradually deepen in color through blush, then deep pink and even red by the evening.
This winner of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society can reach heights up to 15’ tall in warmer climates, but typically tops out around 8 feet in colder areas. The blooming period for this wonderful species begins in late summer and lasts until the first frost.
H. grandiflorus is commonly known as Pink Swamp Hibiscus. Native to the Southeastern United States, this plant is not as popular for nurseries to carry, but it is wonderfully resilient and has an extended blooming season.
This species produces single-petal form flowers in blush pink with a deep red throat and highly visible pollen. These are a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies. The blooms open during the day and close at night, lasting only 1-2 days in total. They open in rapid succession though, so the plant flower consistently from late spring through early fall.
A unique quality of H. grandiflorus is its ability to thrive in marshy and boggy environments. This is a great plant for that spot in the yard that doesn’t have the best drainage. They are native to swamps and marshes and are very tolerant of having wet feet.
Hibiscus moscheutos is another species that is tolerant of marshy soil. This hardy, easy-care plant is simple to propagate and requires little more than some water, sun, and a bit of fertilizer to kick up the blooming season a notch.
That season lasts roughly from July through September. Each flower lasts only 1-2 days, but they open in quick succession and it’s not uncommon to see 20 or more flowers bloom in a single day.
The blooms are typically seen in shades of white and pink, with a deeper red eye in the center, earning these plants the nickname Crimsoneyed Rosemallow. This species has been used extensively in hybridization to produce hardy, fast-growing cultivars in lots of unique and beautiful color combinations.
The Perfect Storm hybrid is part of the Summerific series, a group of H. moscheutos hybrids that are known for their spectacular blooming habit. This compact hibiscus variety produces large (8”) white flowers with varied pink markings on one corner of the petals, creating a pinwheel effect. A deep wine-colored eye reaches into the white of the petals in a starburst shape.
If you are growing a cold hardy hibiscus, you can expect large blooms that last for 1-2 days and a blooming season that extends through most of the summer. Some varieties will begin their season in late spring, while others will continue blooming until the first frost. Tropical hibiscuses have a longer blooming season, but they are less versatile because their roots are not cold-hardy.
Whichever type of hibiscus you choose, these plants all produce some of the largest perennial flowers around and loads of them. You will be enjoying those massive blooms before you know it!