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Confederate Rose

October 29, 2016

QuestionPlease help me identify this plant.  My friend gave me a rooted cutting this spring and it was only 3 or 4 inches tall and now it is six feet tall and blooming.  The flowers are like little powder puffs. Other friend’s want some but I can’t even tell them what it is, much less how to root one. Can you help with both questions?

Image of a Confederate Rose                                        


The plant in question is a confederate rose, Hibiscus mutabilis.  This plant is a fall only blooming hardy hibiscus.  The flowers mutate or change colors during the course of the day, opening either light pink and fading to white or dark pink depending on the variety.  Before a killing frost, (which will kill the plant back to the soil line) cut the stalks and cut them into 4-6 inch lengths.  Then put them in a bucket of water in a protected area where they will not freeze.  They should be rooted within a month. Then you can pot them up or leave them in the water (changing it periodically) until spring.  Once the soil warms up, share with friends and plant more.


September 26, 2015


QuestionI recently saw a large bush in my friend’s yard and it had big leaves and the flowers looked like pink carnations.  She said it was a rose hibiscus and only blooms in the fall.  I have never heard of this plant before but would like to buy one.  Are they available at local nurseries and where is the best place to plant one?

AnswerI believe you are talking about the confederate rose – Hibiscus mutabilis.  This hardy hibiscus is hardy from around central Arkansas south.  It begins growing in the spring when the soil temperatures warm up and grows up to 6-8 feet or more in one season.  It produces woody stalks and the flowers either open white or pink and fade to a shade of white or pink depending on the variety during the course of the day—they mutate or change, thus the species name mutabilis.  It is an old-fashioned plant which is probably more common as a pass-along plant, getting a piece from your friend before a frost would give you a start.  Take cuttings and put them in a bucket of water.  They will root and you can plant those outside next spring.  The plant dies to the ground after a killing frost and will begin the process all over again next spring.

 April 2010

QuestionI would like to try a hardy oleanders in Hot Springs Village. I have heard of Hines Hardy. Is there one you would recommend? Does the Confederate rose grow here? Will trailing Thyme do around stepping stones? I need something that stays alive all winter.


AnswerPrior to this winter, even the common oleander varieties were overwintering in central Arkansas without any damage. This winter some did take a hit, but they should be coming back from the root system even if they were frozen back. Confederate rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) is winter hardy from central Arkansas south--it dies completely to the ground each year and is slow to recover in the spring, but it will come back. Creeping thyme is a wonderful ground cover around rocky sites. It doesn't like rich, wet areas, so should do well around stepping stones and you get the added benefit of it being culinary as well as ornamental. There are actually several varieties of thyme with green, yellow or variegated foliage. 


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