The sight of a Lavender Hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus) in full bloom is a magnificent sight. This is not a tropical hibiscus, but a cold-hardy perennial species! Lavender Hibiscus has been considered an heirloom plant for many generations in the South, where it’s also known as Rose-of-Sharon or Shrub Hibiscus. Whatever you call it, this endearing plant will add beautiful color as well as a touch of nostalgia to your garden.
A Burst of Blooms in Summer for Long-Lasting Color
You’ll fall in love with these lavender flowers! Each 5-petaled blossom grows up to 4 inches in diameter. You may notice a resemblance to hollyhock flowers because Lavender Hibiscus is related to hollyhocks. And you won’t see just a splash of color here and there; your Lavender Hibiscus will provide a virtual riot of color when it’s in full bloom. These shrubs are loaded down with flowers; in fact, once it starts blooming in mid-summer, you may see flowers until frost.
Attracts Hummingbirds and Butterflies in Droves
When the showy flowers begin to open in summer, hummingbirds and butterflies won’t be far behind! The cup-shaped flowers of Lavender Hibiscus are irresistible to these winged visitors, which makes this shrub a super choice for a pollinator garden. In fact, Lavender Hibiscus is one of the top-ranked hummingbird and butterfly shrubs. When you plan a pollinator garden, you may only think of annual and perennial flowering plants that are much smaller. But don’t forget about larger plants, such as flowering shrubs, which not only provide nectar sources but also provide nesting sites for the birds. As a design element in your pollinator garden, Lavender Hibiscus provides a taller focal point for smaller perennial flowers around it, and the pastel lavender color blends with lots of other flower colors without dominating them.
The Distinctive Foliage Enhances Its Flowers
Even the foliage on Lavender Hibiscus shrubs is noteworthy. The distinctive 3-lobed leaves are deeply toothed, adding a textural quality to this plant’s vase-shaped form. If you enjoy making floral arrangements for your home or office, flowering stems of Lavender Hibiscus are fabulous additions. Even when it’s not blooming, the unique foliage adds a special touch of greenery to a mixed floral bouquet. But if you cut the stems while they’re flowering, you’ll really add flair to your arrangements with a spectacular two-for-one display of color and texture!
A Multi-Stemmed Shrub Has Greater Flower Power
One reason Lavender Hibiscus produces so many flowers is that it grows as a multi-stemmed shrub. Each of the stems produces lots of flowers, so when multiple stems are massed together on mature shrubs, the result is a flurry of color that you wouldn’t get from a single-trunked shrub. You can let it grow into its natural shape (with branches that grow all the way to the ground) or you can prune the lower branches back to the main trunks to create a tree-form shrub.
Handles Hot and Cold Weather Like a Champ
Lavender Hibiscus is a durable and resilient shrub that actually flourishes in hot weather. During the heat of summer when other flowering plants stop blooming because they can’t handle the heat, Lavender Hibiscus really puts on a show by blooming relentlessly. On the flip side, it also handles extreme cold. Lavender Hibiscus withstands winter temperatures to minus 10 degrees F without suffering damage or decreasing the number of flowers it produces!
Free from Pests and Diseases
Lavender Hibiscus is rarely bothered by the insects and diseases that plague other landscape plants. Even deer don’t prefer this plant! Rutgers University rates Lavender Hibiscus as only “seldom severely damaged” by deer. This is great news if you live in a rural area where hungry deer see your landscape plants as their next feast. If you’re adding more deer-resistant plants to your landscape design, put Lavender Hibiscus on your shopping list!
It’s not a Water Guzzler
Established Lavender Hibiscus shrubs are tolerant of short periods of drought. If you plant a new Lavender Hibiscus, and your climate suffers a drought the first year after transplanting it, you’ll want to keep your young shrub thoroughly watered to keep its root system hydrated. But after its first year of establishment, it can handle drought much better.
Watering tip: Even though established shrubs are drought-tolerant, they will flower more abundantly if you keep them well-watered during intensely hot and dry summers.
Forms a Striking Flowering Hedge
If you’d like a flowering shrub that typically grows about 10 feet tall to plant along your property line as an informal deciduous hedge, Lavender Hibiscus is hard to beat. Massed in a row, this floriferous shrub enlivens your landscape with color and forms a trouble-free green screen. In hot climates, Lavender Hibiscus appreciates some shade in the afternoon, which makes it a versatile hedge for planting in a part-sun, part-shade location.
Perfect in Patio Pots
Lavender Hibiscus makes an impressive potted plant! You can enjoy its flowers up close if you grow it in a patio pot, and you’ll receive a colorful “welcome home” if you place its container near your home’s entrance. And if you really want to dress up your pool area, place several pots of Lavender Hibiscus poolside! Instead of digging soil from your garden, use a packaged potting mix. Even good garden soil has a tendency to become compacted in containers, and Lavender Hibiscus needs loose soil that drains well.
Container tip: Choose a heavy pot of ceramic or clay, because a plastic pot may have a tendency to tip over in strong winds.
Elegant Cottage Garden Shrub
Cottage gardens are elegant but informal, which is the perfect setting for Lavender Hibiscus. This plant’s multi-stemmed shape gives it a loosely structured form that allows movement in the breeze. And the pastel lavender color of its flowers offers the soft, romantic look that you want from a cottage-garden design. When you add plants with pink and blue flowers to complement the lavender flowers of this shrub, you’ll create a cool color palette that invites you to unwind and relax in your garden.
It Doesn’t Need a Lot of Attention
If you’d rather spend time enjoying your plants instead of tending to them, Lavender Hibiscus is a must-have for its low-maintenance qualities. Mature plants are not only drought-tolerant, but they’re also not too picky about the type of soil you have in your garden, such as sand, loam, or clay. They’re also adaptable to soils that are acid or alkaline (preferring 5.0-8.0 pH). Lavender Hibiscus is even tolerant of air pollution, which makes it a great choice for urban gardens. It doesn’t require pruning to hold its strong form or to keep producing flowers, but it responds well to pruning if you want to shape it. If you do prune your Lavender Hibiscus, do so in late winter or early spring before the new growth emerges. If you apply a slow-release fertilizer in early spring before the leaf buds open, you’ll help Lavender Hibiscus reach its flowering potential!
A Little History
The species name of Lavender Hibiscus ‘– syriacus ‘– was given to this plant by early plant taxonomists who thought it was originally from Syria. Although its native habitats were later revealed to be China and India, the species name still stands.