'Perfect Storm' rose mallow is a hybrid cultivar of Hibiscus moscheutos, known commonly as the hardy hibiscus plant. It is part of Proven Winners' Summerific series. Perfect Storm is a relatively recent cultivar that is a compact version of the popular 'Summer Storm' hibiscus. With a mature height of about 3 feet, Perfect Storm is roughly half the size of its larger cousin, making it a better choice for small yards or beds. Thanks to its compact size, it also needs no staking.
Like other kinds of hardy hibiscus, Perfect Storm flowers late in the growing season, helping gardeners extend sequence of bloom in the landscape. It has a big, bi-colored flower about 7 to 8 inches across. The center is a deep, reddish-pink (with a prominent stamen, as is typical with hibiscus) and is surrounded by a lighter pink color streaked with darker veins. Each individual flower is short-lived but is quickly succeeded by more blooms. The foliage of this rose mallow becomes a very dark purple, almost black, highlighting the brighter colors of the blooms.
|Botanical Name||Hibiscus moscheutos|
|Common Name||Hardy hibiscus, rose mallow, swamp mallow|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous perennial|
|Mature Size||3 feet tall and 5 feet wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Well-drained, average-to-rich fertility|
|Soil pH||Acidic to neutral; up to 7.0|
|Bloom Time||Late summer|
|Flower Color||Light pink with a reddish-pink center|
|Hardiness Zones||5 to 9|
|Native Area||North America|
How to Grow Perfect Storm Hibiscus
Even though the plant functions as something of a small shrub during the summertime, it is an herbaceous perennial. This means it will die back to ground level in winter, before re-emerging the next year. It will be one of your last perennials to push up new shoots, though (sometime in May in a zone-5 landscape, for example), so do not give up on it when it hasn't come back to life with the other plants.
To clean up the space, prune out the old branches in spring before the new growth emerges (do not cut back in the fall). You can cut these dead, woody stems right down to the ground because the new shoots in spring push up out of the earth. Occasionally, the plant is attacked by aphids, mealybugs, or thrips. Inspect the leaves regularly for the presence of harmful insects. If you find any, spray the leaves with neem oil.
Hardy hibiscus will bloom best if located in full sun. It will survive with less sun, but it will not flower as much.
While Perfect Storm hibiscus will survive in soil of average fertility, it will perform better in more fertile ground. To achieve this, work soil amendments into the soil around it annually.
Water enough to keep the soil should consistently moist, provided the soil drains well. To help with water retention in the ground, as well as drainage, mix compost into the soil.
Temperature and Humidity
Like most hardy hibiscus, Perfect Storm rose mallow can thrive in a wide range of temperature and humidity zones, provided it is watered regularly. It loves heat and sun but must stay hydrated.
To keep the plant well-fed, buy a balanced fertilizer at a home improvement store. Following instructions on the package, apply it once a year in spring. With a garden hose, wet the soil well afterward to make sure that the fertilizer goes down to the roots.
Varieties of Hardy Hibiscus
Other varieties of hardy hibiscus for zones 5 to 9 include:
- 'Southern Belle' series: Flowers are 8 to 10 inches, in red, pink, or white; 5 feet tall
- 'Disco Belle' series: Flowers are 8 to 10 inches, in red, pink, or white; semi-dwarf (2.5 feet tall) perennials developed from Southern Belle for gardeners seeking more compact plants
- 'Luna Blush' series: Flowers are 6 to 10 inches, in red or white; 3 feet tall
- 'Cherry Cheesecake': Flowers are 7 to 8 inches, with a magenta or "cherry" red center surrounded by pinkish-white; up to 5 feet tall
- 'Cranberry Crush': Flowers are 7 to 8 inches, solid scarlet; up to 4 feet tall
- 'Berry Awesome': Flowers are 7 to 8 inches, lavender, with a darker center; up to 4 feet tall
What Is a Rose Mallow?
Summerific Perfect Storm hibiscus is commonly called a kind of "rose mallow" (which is synonymous with "swamp mallow"). "Mallow" can refer to a whole family of plants and is the common name for Malvaceae. But it can also refer to various genera within that family; most notably, Malva, which is the mallow genus. You may very well have grown a member of this genus in the past without knowing it: 'Zebrina' hollyhock isn't really a hollyhock at all but a type of mallow plant, Malva sylvestris 'Zebrina.'
Like Malva, Hibiscus is a genus within the mallow family. So Perfect Storm hibiscus gets its "rose mallow" nickname merely from a family connection. A particular species of Hibiscus (H. moscheutos) has been designated "rose mallow" as a nod to its membership in the greater mallow family. And remember, Perfect Storm is a cultivar of H. moscheutos.