Hibiscus mutabilis

The Ever-changing Confederate Rose

Hibiscus mutabilis or Confederate Rose grows into a large deciduous shrub in the tropics or subtropics but acts more like a perennial in more temperate areas.

Confederate rose blossom, white, single with a green center.

Its leaves are the size of the average adult's palm. They are green and fuzzy with 3-5 lobes. As interesting as the leaves may be, the 5 inch flowers are the main attraction.
Two Confederate rose buds showing color, pink. Fat buds held in clusters open into ruffled flowers from summer through late fall. They open pink or white and turn red by evening. This is how the shrub acquired the name mutabilis. There are both single and double-flowered forms.

The double flowers resemble roses and as Hibiscus mutabilis is traditionaly planted in the southern U.S. people started calling it the confederate rose.

In zones 9-11, give this plant space as it will quickly grow to 12 feet. In zones 7 or 8, it probably won't exceed 6 feet. It likes rich, moist soil, but will adapt to full sun or part shade.

You can propagate your confederate rose by taking cuttings throughout the growing season. They root most easily in the spring. You can start them in water or soil.

You can also harvest seed from the dried seed heads and direct sow it after the last frost. Seedlings will bloom in their second year. Plants will sometimes seed themselves, so check under your plant for seedlings before you plant seeds.

If you wish to control the rampant growth of H. mutabilis you can cut it back to three feet each spring. Good luck with this as, given enough heat and rain, it may still become a 12 foot monster by fall.

If the plant doesn't freeze where you live, you can also remove the lower limbs and make a beautiful tree out of it. When treated this way, it will develop a woody trunk.

The one problem confederate rose seems to have is its vulnerability to white fly. Keep it watered as drought stress will only cause it to become more attractive to these pests. I wouldn't bother spraying it with anything as it will bloom right through an infestation without flinching.

Related Plants:

The Hardy Perennial Lord Baltimore Hibiscus

Hibiscus Care Guide

Rose Of Sharon Bush, the Cold Hardy Althea

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