Midnight Marvel Hibiscus Shrub
moscheutos 'Midnight Marvel'
The handsome, maple-shaped leaves on this fast-growing Rose Mallow reach nearly a foot long, and are very abundantly borne on this well-branched, imposing perennial, which reaches 5 feet high and 6 feet wide. Absolutely show-stopping, they make 'Midnight Marvel' an excellent choice for a specimen as well as a hedge, accent planting, or border standout. And the color refuses to green out in summer, even in fiery heat.
By midsummer the plant is studded with long, elegantly twisted buds, which open to beautifully veined carmine-red blooms 9 to 10 inches wide. A true red Hibiscus is a rarity, and 'Midnight Marvel' offers a dark, pleasing shade of crimson that sets it apart from all others. The flowers continue until the first hard frost, recovering nicely from those light frosts that dot autumn nights in many areas.
With the first run of cooler fall weather, the foliage turns brilliant shades of orange, remaining on the plant for many weeks before dropping. This adds a whole new dimension to the color palette, the red blooms combining boldly with the orange leaves. Talk about fall color!
H. moscheutos is native to the southeast United States, thriving in swamps, marshes, and wet meadows. If grown in very moist soil, it will probably be somewhat larger in size and heavier in bloom, provided it receives full sun and good hot summers. It can withstand short periods of drought, but the flower count will be affected. It doesn't mind heavy or clay soils, and needs heat and sun to grow its best. Low maintenance, very long-blooming, and so colorful, it is a must-have for the garden! Zones 5-8.
Set plants out in a loose, moisture retentive soil enriched with generous amounts of well-decomposed organic matter. Full sun to light shade is required. Space plants 18 to 36 inches part.
A mulch is recommended to preserve summer moisture; do not allow plants to dry out during the growing season. Cut back hardened brown stalks to the ground in the fall, or in early spring, before new growth begins.
Toward the northern limit of their range, a winter mulch of pine straw of salt hay is recommended. H. moscheutos is slow to break dormancy in the spring - so be careful not to remove it accidentally. More drought tolerant than other species and varieties.
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Tips for gardening in particularly hot, dry climates:
1. Water with a drip system whenever possible – soak the bed slowly and thoroughly to a depth of 10" to 12".
2. Watering deeply every 3 to 5 days is preferable to a shallow daily watering.
3. Water in the early morning, so foliage has time to dry.
4. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch or similar material to aid in water retention and help keep the roots cool during hot weather.