When it comes to growing exotic hibiscus there is no better time of the year than right now to see them in bloom. As any gardener who cultivates these beautiful plants in the ground here will tell you, September and October are the best two months for hibiscus in Southern California. By now all the branches you artfully pruned late last fall and early spring will have a bunch of robust new growth loaded with buds. Every day during these two months your hibiscus will seem to be wrapped in the gorgeous flowers you saw online that inspired you to purchase your plants. You have corrected minor nutrient deficiencies. You battled and won the war on aphids and thrips. Snails have been beaten back. Fungus has been cut out. And any damage from a chilly winter is now seven months forgotten. So lift your chin in pride, as it is now time to walk the garden and marvel in each of the remaining days before winter brings us back down to earth.
Growing exotic hibiscus in the ground in a Mediterranean climate is no easy task. This is not a ‘plant and forget’ type operation. The simplest way I have found to explain how hard we have it is to compare us to rose gardeners. In fact, I consider hibiscus growers to be no less passionate or kooky than any rosarian. We are actually kindred spirits cultivating in the same microcosm, which is ruled by a similar, seemingly endless variety of maladies that test our patience and resolve. When you really think about it, we are only separated by thorns and aversion to frost. So for any of those millions of rosarians out there reading this, you can relate and applaud the effort we hibiscus growers put into our craft.
You will notice in the photos above and in all the ones below that I do not have any pot-planted exotic hibiscus. The reason is nothing more than the fact I prefer to only cultivate my hibiscus in the ground. By planting my hibiscus in the ground I do understand that I play Russian roulette with them, as the winter of 2007 proved. I lost almost half the hibiscus I was growing at the time during that freeze. But lucky for me I have short-term memory loss when it comes to things like this. And for clarification, I certainly hold no less admiration of those with a less fortunate microclimate who need to grow them in pots. In fact, most impressive to me are all those who nurture them through snowy winters inside their home or greenhouse.
So now to my point. For this week’s post I wanted to show off photos of my hibiscus putting on great floral displays right now. So without further ado I give you…
“Some Like It Hot”
“Crème de Cacao”
“Black Cherry.” This is a rare cultivar that is grown more for the unusual dark flower rather than a floriferous display.
“Vin Electric” on the right and “Cinnamon Girl” on the left.