Perennial hibiscus plants, those that come back for several years without replanting, are rapidly gaining favor with plant lovers across the nation. If you wish to enjoy a plant that is easy to care for, try the perennial hibiscus. If you reside in climatic zones 4 through 9, you can grow and enjoy a perennial hibiscus that will blow your doors off with color.
The perennial hibiscus should not be confused with the tropical hibiscus, which would be killed in winter freezes. As the name implies, perennial hibiscus are truly perennial and, once established, will provide years and years of brilliant landscape color. Actually, these plants are herbaceous perennials, meaning their tops die down to the ground each winter, but new shoots will come roaring back into lush growth when soils warm the following spring.
There are many varieties of perennial hibiscus to choose from. Plant heights range from 3 feet to 8 feet tall. They can be used in the garden as focal point or arranged in a manner to provide an informal hedge. Some perennial hibiscus plants are compact and rather formal looking compared with the more loosely arranged habit of taller hibiscus.
The stupendous flower colors and the sizes of the perennial hibiscus flowers provide hibiscus growers a long season of delightful blooms. Hibiscus plants produce flower sizes that range from 4 to 10 inches in diameter. Perennial hibiscus plants can be adorned with pinks, reds, lavenders, and many shades of the primary colors.
There are very few plants that you, the gardener, can actually choose the color you want them to be in your garden. Hydrangeas happen to be one of them. With some simple amendments to your soil, you can choose between making the blooms blue or pink. And while it doesn’t happen overnight, the magical blooms are well worth the wait!
The most important thing that influences the color of hydrangeas is soil pH—that’s the level of soil acidity. That means you may want to start with a soil test. You can either get a soil test kit from your favorite garden center or you can send your soil to your local cooperative extension office.
In general, more acidity makes hydrangeas turn blue, less acidity (or more alkaline soil) promotes pink—that is, unless we’re talking about white hydrangeas, which alas, are limited to white.
Take a look at our pH color guide to get closer to the color you prefer.
Hydrangea Color Preference
Okay, so how do you actually change soil pH?
To lower pH and turn hydrangeas blue, we recommend adding Espoma Soil Acidifier to the soil. It’s safe, long-lasting, and approved for organic gardening. Use 2 1/2 cups around the plant’s drip line every sixty days, until you reach the desired shade of blue.
Prefer pink? Then use Espoma Garden Lime. Sprinkle about 2½ to 5 lbs. per 100 sq. ft. in the Spring or the Fall.
5 Colorful Tips
- Consider container gardening for hydrangeas as an easier way to control soil pH. Some of the newer varieties of hydrangeas feature huge flowers on compact plants which are ideal for containers.
- Feeding hydrangeas well results in healthier plants with more saturated color.Espoma Holly-tone is an excellent choice for blue hydrangeas since it contains sulfur to lower pH. Espoma Plant-tone is ideal for feeding pink hydrangeas since it does not contain the additional sulfur.
- Water hydrangeas steadily, especially in the hottest part of the summer to keep them from wilting. Mulch to keep roots cool and conserve moisture.
- Hydrangea color can be affected by lime leaching out of concrete walkways or patios nearby, making blue a real challenge. Keep this in mind when considering where to plant.
- A word of caution: not all plants like acidic soil. Be careful about what’s growing near your hydrangeas. Not sure which plants like acidic soil? Click here to see a list of Acid Loving Plants.
Adapted from The Farmer’s Almanac
Divide late-summer or autumn-flowering perennials. If necessary, go after phlox and artemisia with a sharp spade or even an ax. If delphiniums need to be divided, remove and replant the new little plants growing around the outside of the clump. Discard the hard old heart.
Trim climbing roses and attach securely to fences or trellises. Continue fertilization of your rosebushes; liquid fertilizers can be added every 2 weeks. Scatter crushed eggshells in a thick ring around roses to deter slugs.
Since garden impatiens have been severely impacted by a new downy mildew disease we know you’ll be seeking alternatives to this past favorite garden plant. That’s why we’re free offering workshops Mon-Fri at 2pm to help conquer the challenge of finding suitable replacements.
UPDATE: Due to an overwhelming response we’ve extended the workshops until May 17! Stop in Mon-Fri at 2pm!