Cotton rose, Dixie rosemallow, Confederate rose, or cotton rosemallow are the other names of Hibiscus mutabilis. This plant is originally native to southern China and Taiwan and it is famous for its dramatic color changes. If you want to grow this plant, you need to know how to grow and care for this plant and here is the explanation about it.
The Steps to Grow Hibiscus Mutabilis
How do we grow Hibiscus mutabilis? According to Plant Care Today, it can be done by seed sown in early spring. Another way that you can do to propagate this plant is to take cuttings during the summertime. For your information, when the flowers fade, they become brittle seed capsules. To collect the seeds for propagation, save them and then plant them in the spring is very easy.
If you want to grow Hibiscus mutabilis from cuttings, you have to make sure that you choose a few semi-woody limb tips and take cuttings around a foot long. It can be done at the end of the growing season, before the first expected frost.
After that, you have to put the cuttings in a tall vase or bucket of water. And then, put them in a warm and sunny location inside. Also, you have to make sure that you can prevent stagnation by changing the water every couple of days.
In a month or more, there will be roots formed. For your information, through the deep winter months, the cuttings will be fine kept in water. In January, you are able to plant them in their own pots. You are able to put them indoors as houseplants or in a greenhouse setting until spring comes. Then, you are able to move them to the outdoors and plant them in the ground or in bigger containers when the weather warms up.
How to Care Hibiscus Mutabilis
When it comes to caring for a plant, there are several factors that you have to note. Those are light, temperature, watering, fertilizing, soil, transplanting and also pruning. Here is the explanation of each factor.
This plant can grow best if it is exposed to full sun, but part shade can also be tolerated. If you put this plant in an area with more sun, make sure that you have to water it more often. According to Best Plants, this plant is hardy to USDA Hardiness zones 7 through 10. In Zones 9 and 10, it can grow quite splendidly. In zones 7 to 8, it will die back after the first freeze. However, if you can give it proper care, it will sprout vigorously in the next spring.
According to Best Plants, optimally, you can put this plant in an area with a temperature between 55˚ to 64˚ Fahrenheit or around 13˚ to 18˚ Celcius, particularly for germination and during the bloom season. As explained in the Spruce, it is important to note that this plant is not particularly cold-hardy even though it can tolerate short periods with temperatures falling to around 23˚ Fahrenheit when it is fully dormant.
Hibiscus mutabilis needs a moderate amount of moisture. So, you have to water it regularly in the summer. It is done to maintain the moisture levels of the soil at a medium scale. However, you also have to make sure not to overwater it because it may lead to root rot or other issues. When winter comes, water it sparingly, and mulch plants to maintain moisture. When you water Hibiscus mutabilis, it is better to use a drip hose or regular garden hose set. With it, you can water it slowly and deeply. When you water it, make sure that you avoid overhead watering because it can cause mold and mildew issues.
You are able to apply fertilizer monthly and make sure that you choose a balanced, liquid variety. Don’t give this plant fertilizer too much. During the growing season, you can feed it several times around 6 to 8 weeks with a hibiscus plant food to see lush growth and along with watering the plant freely. When this plant is planted in the ground, it can do well without fertilizer, but if you do not give fertilizer, their growth will be very slow. It is better for you to choose a liquid or a time-released formula. You can look for an NPK ratio of 10 10 10.
Hibiscus mutabilis likes soil which is well-draining and loamy and also enriched with compost. The moisture of the soil is medium. To help maintain moisture of the soil, you are able to top dress the soil with a thick layer of organic mulch. However, it is important for you to be careful not to permit the mulch to come in direct contact with the stem of the plant because it can lead to mold and mildew issues.
How about transplanting Hibiscus mutabilis? You can transplant soft-wood cuttings when the plant is big enough. When you do it, make sure that you do it carefully to avoid disturbing the root system.
You are able to prune this plant to control the shape and size of the plant or for preparing the plant for winter. If the climates are colder, this plant will shed its leaves after the first frost. At this time, you are able to cut the plant back to a few inches above the ground. When the spring comes, there will be new shoots at the base of the plant. There will be a flourishing bush before you realize it.
Factor of Color Change of Hibiscus Mutabilis
Hibiscus mutabilis flowers can change their color in a day. In the morning, they may be white and then at noon they turn into pink and in the evening you may find them to be red. In the laboratory condition, the change of the color of the petals was slower than the flowers put outdoors. So, temperature may be the important factor which affects the rate of change of the color. As explained in Wikipedia, when white flowers of Hibiscus mutabilis are kept in the refrigerator, they remain white. But then, when they are taken out to warm, they slowly turn pink.