One of my favorite things about being a landscape designer is meeting new plants. I am usually first attracted to their leaves over the flowers. Then I met this gorgeous hibiscus. Let me introduce you, this is ‘Lufkin Red’ Hardy Hibiscus, Hibiscus laevis. Wow, right?
They grow 5 to 6 feet tall in one season and make a great addition to topical, native and cottage gardens. I have used them in a few designs in the back row, if you will, to pop up and add a big bright bloom!
Here in zone 9 they are considered an herbaceous perennial and while they may die back to the ground in a hard freeze they should return from the roots. They are part of the Rose Mallows family and so far, seem to do as well as another favorite of mine Pavonia ‘Rock Rose’.New to our market ‘Lufkin’ Hardy Hibiscus are native to wetlands and flood plains and can handle both wet and dry soil. After Harvey and it’s 3 to 4 feet of rain in a few days, I am collecting information on plants that can handle both wet and dry feet! (below, me having fun with the filters.) I love the shape of the big petals!‘Lufkin’ Hardy hibiscus have a long bloom time, beginning in late spring and continuing through the summer and into autumn. The individual flowers only last a day or so but they keep coming! They are larger than my hand, starting the day cupped and opening flat by noon. As you can see from the photos, they are a deep pink more that a true red. There is also a white variety called ‘Lufkin White’. Like the red it has also been improved to be resistant to leaf spot, which is important during our hot humid summers evenings.The flowers are very attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Preferring full sun they can also thrive in part shade.Their grow habit is upright and spreading. I have not observed them long enough to see what they do over several years. It is said that even though they could die back that their root system continues to enlarge and this results in a more robust plant over time. If they do not die back in a hard freeze, you can trim them back to encourage them to be fuller and bushier. I am trying to find space to plant one here at Ravenscourt Gardens, my menagerie garden. I call a cottage garden but really it is a test garden.