... Crimson Eyed Rose Mallow, a NATIVE hibiscus, acquired at a Master Gardener plant swap in the early 1990s. An herbaceous shrub, dying back to the ground each winter, waking up late each spring, almost Memorial Day. Stalks are pithy, rising fast to 5 feet in height. Seedpods resemble wooden roses, cracking open at the top to spill a flood of dark brown seeds. Buds have beautiful architecture and leaves are scalloped on the edge. Bloom time overlaps the arrival of Japanese beetles who flock to the pristine petals leaving them in tatters. I endeavored to outwit the beetles and here is my strategy:
In late June, I prune tips of each Hibiscus stalk, removing the top inch of growth. This disruption to emerging stalks delays flowering and reduces the shrub’s ultimate height. It also causes two or three branches to emerge where there had been only one. Slides four and five show the “pinch place“ and new branches that took over. A later flowering period has less overlap with Japanese beetle activity as they chew the landscape for four weeks. The pinched Rose Mallow began to bloom at the end of that period instead of the beginning. Final slide shows the beginnings of a seed pod swelling after the blossom has fallen.
Crimson Eyed Rose Mallow prefers a lot of moisture. An above-ground pool preceded its planting location. Two decades of compaction from water weight made this clay soil reluctant to drain and now keeps Rose Mallow irrigated. This lovely native grows along the edges of the Delaware River where continual access to moisture pleases the plant perfectly. It also revels in low spots and roadside drainage ditches. Three colors occur naturally – dark pink, medium pink and white.