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'Mahogany Splendor' Hibiscus

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.

'Mahogany Splendor' Hibiscus. Japanese maple-looking 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.

Mahogany Splendor hibiscus

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.


  1. I've grown this one before and loved it. It's vigorous and the branches are nice and sturdy. I'm not entirely sure why I haven't grown it again... Haight Ashbury is a similar plant with splashes of variegation and is also a fun foliage plant, you should try it if you can find it!

    1. Anonymous12:26 PM

      I have some 4 the 1st time & LOVE them!!!

    2. Anonymous8:58 AM

      We are in Miami, FL. don't know if this is the same, but our leaves look the same, short time on flowers, like early morning & they close by 2 in the afternoon. Beautiful flower, a lighter color of burgundy on the pedals & center is very dark with a very short pollen in the center that is dark gold. They have multiplied so much & are about 6' tall. I'm trying to find out if this is that plant.

    3. Anonymous7:26 PM

      I think so because I have one and yes the flowers only last a few hours but are beautiful!!!

    4. Anonymous10:04 AM

      Purchased one of these in 2013 for $9. It grew to 5 to 6 feet tall. I live in OH and planted it in poor soil but kept it very moist as I have read they will work as a water plant in some areas. I did not overwinter it. I purchased 2 this year for $6 each and plan to overwinter at least one. This is a beautiful plant that got as wide as it was long by summer's end. Great plant!
      Note: some garden centers say it is drought tolerant but I doubt that unless it is already massive?

  2. Like you, I tried to over winter hibiscus without much success so I stopped buying them at $25 each. But, I may have to try this one, love the leaf color.


    1. You can actually root it in water

  3. The foliage alone is reason enough to grow this, but what are the blooms like? color? Single or double?

    1. Kylee,
      This is a short day flowering Hibiscus, which means, depending on where you are located, you may actually never see a bloom on it.
      If you are one of the lucky ones (deep south mainly), you will get to enjoy a deep burgundy, single flower.
      But if not, this Hibiscus shines purely as a foliage item... Think of it as a "no-fuss Japanese Maple - like" plant.

    2. They are deep pinkish red single. Mine came from a cutting I stuck in the ground. It is now loaded with beautiful crimson pink blossoms which the bees love. BTW Im in St. Petersburg Fl

  4. Is it an hybrid or a species? I will google that. Is it easy to start from cuttings? a friend sent me an Hibiscus tillaceus rooted cutting and an unrooted cutting of the variegated leaf form. They should root easily in water I read and the plants can survive waterlogged soil and salt water (one of the common names is Sea Hibiscus). The leaves look like teh leaves of a Linden tree.

    These leaves of 'Mahogany Splendor' are so nice. I wonder if they revert to green if the light level is not high enough.

    1. Stefano,
      This is a species (acetosella).
      This is a seed Hibiscus, and I would not recommend getting cuttings from it, as it really damages the plant structure, and gives you a less than perfect specimen.
      In low light, the leaves will not be as dark as in full sun, but they will not revert to green.
      Hope this helps!

    2. Janie in Alabama5:52 PM

      I bought one at a local nursery earlier this summer to put in the center of a ginormous pot as the "thriller" plant. The dang thing grew a foot in a week! I cut it back a good 12 inches and stuck those cuttings in some potting soil. Now all those cuttings have rooted and are growing like crazy! I live in the deep south and our summer has been HOT and HUMID. Maybe that's why it's doing so well. I've been cutting it back and sticking the cuttings in the ground, just to see what'll happen. They are ALL growing. It's like nothing I have ever seen before. It's beautiful, though, and I absolutely love it.

  5. Wow, I love the color of the foliage. I have tons of Japanese maples but none look that great!

    1. Ann,

      Good eye! This effectively looks a lot like a Japanese Maple, but it is not.
      It is technically a Hibiscus.

  6. Oh now that is a nice plant! I hadn't seen it before. Thanks for sharing. I am going to stay on the lookout for this one.


  7. I remember those from our trip to Ball - love them!

    After three years in a row of our tropical hibiscus bringing whiteflies into the house, I tried overwintering it in the garage, and it died.

    Just might have to get me one of these instead. We have Black Lace sambucus, and I love the dark foliage on that too, but I really like the heavier texture of the hibiscus as well, and then of course, there are the blooms! I'm very fond of the contrast of dark foliage in the garden.

  8. Anonymous8:11 PM

    I was lucky enough to find 70 plugs of this delicious plant this early spring. Disappointed, though, to find it should be treated as an annual. Can't wait until it blooms. I'm zone 5.

    1. Anonymous4:28 PM

      We found 10 at 50% off at our local garden center so with coupon I paid less than $2 each. Love the color. We are in zone 5 as well but decided for this price I couldn't pass it up. Hoping to find a way to over-winter without having to dig up.

  9. I just brought one today at "Farmers Market" already 2 feet in height. Price was $3.49. I am wondering if I can keep in as a house plant as I have so many windows that face west?

  10. Natalie4:16 PM

    I just bought one today too!

    I'm wondering if it will attract any pests/bugs that I should be worried about when it comes time to bring it indoors this winter?

  11. Anonymous4:07 PM

    Just bought a plant today at a farm stand in valrico fl. Hope to add the beautiful foliage to my beautiful tropical garden. Always loved a Japaneseaple but was unable to grow here. At what temperature should it be brought inside?

  12. Anonymous7:14 AM

    Can I plant the Mahogany Splender Hibiscus in the grown for all year zone 6

  13. Anonymous4:36 PM

    We sell Mahonany Splendor along with our pond plants. We put them right in a shallow tub of water. We find this the easiest way to take care of them too as they never wilt on a hot sunny day when you can't get to them with the hose in time. Great plant.

    1. Anonymous5:26 PM

      I am in Tennessee and I put mine in my fish pond. I think this fall I will put it in the ground and mulch heavily and see if it will survive and come back out next spring.

  14. Anonymous3:13 PM

    I have two that I bought in the spring. I planted them in pots on the front step. They are now about 6 foot tall. They are lovely. I am in zone 5, Iowa. Thye are a zone seven perenial. So they would be a tender perenial here and I will need to bring them in. Not sure about bringing them in if they would survive the winter. Do I need to cut them back if I do? I have not seen any blooms. Not sure about collecting seed without the bloom? I have really enjoyed them and they look wonderful with my sunflowers. Any suggestions or comments appreciated. Julie

  15. Anonymous1:48 PM

    I also live in Iowa and would be very interested in the answers to the comment above. I plan to dig mine up and bring them in doors for the winter unless I hear different. Love the deep purple leaves!

  16. Anonymous4:31 PM

    I'm in zone 5. LOVE this plant. It took cuttings a couple of weeks ago before our first cold temps. Put the cuttings in a vase of water and they are starting to root. I'm hoping I can get one of two of them to keep growing inside through the winter and then do the cutting again early spring and get 5 or 6 plants out of it.

  17. Anonymous7:38 PM

    Zone 8b: I love this plant. I have planted three (lost two to hard freezes and ill preparedness). I know you always see (partial sun/ sun) written on the label, but these plants LOVE full sun. I planted one in partial sun and it was about 1/3 of the height of the full sun one. Another fun thing about this plant is that you can eat it! Yes the leaves and flowers are edible! They are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants. Many people make tea out of them, but I like to eat the tender new leaves in salad. I will buy this plant every year. I can usually find it for between $9-$15. Even if it does die every year during hard freezes, a new one (taken from cuttings) grows back so fast that it makes up for it in my book. Also, my plants all got above 6ft tall and that seems to be taller than what they are reported to grow on most sites and I only fertilize minimally.



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