I haven't grown a tender or tropical hibiscus in my garden since the year I forgot to bring one in before the first frost and it died. The joy of growing a potted hibiscus all summer long doesn't make up for the stress at the end of the season caused by deciding between attempting to overwinter it inside or composting it. I was pretty sure I was done with non-hardy hibiscuses in my garden until last year when I toured the gardens at Ball Horticulture. I saw what I thought was an amazing Japanese maple from a distance. When I ran up to it I discovered it was a 'Mahogany Splendor' Hibiscus.
Not only is the dark color of 'Mahogany Splendor' beautiful, but check out these deeply lobed leaves and their serrated edging. You can see why I mistook this hibiscus for an Japanese maple. This hibiscus is suppose to be heat and drought tolerant, and in full sun develop the dark purple coloring to their leaves. It's grown from seed and several seed sellers like Burpee and Stokes Seed currently offer the seeds. I'm sure it will be available as starts and larger plants at garden centers and nurseries this year as the weather warms.
Hardiness for 'Mahogany Splendor' hibiscus is somewhere between Zones 7-11 where it dies back to the ground and emerges again in the spring. Some websites I've come across report it being hardy to even lower gardening Zones, but I would just grow it as an annual foliage plant where you get real winters. Burpee's website says it grows to 5-6 feet, but other websites listing the seed say 3-5. When I saw the hibiscus in person it was close to 6 feet tall towards in the end of summer.
If you've ever wanted the look of a Japanese maple but don't have the space or pocketbook of a Japanese maple owner, check out 'Mahogany Splendor' hibiscus. It is the new poor man's Japanese maple.
Are you one of the lucky people who have grown this hibiscus already? If so, feel free to leave your thoughts below on how well it grew in your garden and any cultivation tips. Also, if you're curious: that green plant in the background is coleus 'Wasabi.' I grew a trial plant of it last year and have to take a picture to post soon.
This spring I received three starter plants of 'Mahogany Splendor' hibiscus along with some coleus plants from Ball Hort, which I planted in a self-watering container by Lechuza. Here's what my potted container looks like in late July from starter plants that were two inches tall in the spring. The photo came out a little on the red side, but I just wanted to illustrate how beautiful and easy to care for these have been.