Cotton rose mallow (Hibiscus mutabilis), a member of the Malvaceae family, is one of the latest blooming hibiscuses and a popular plant found in many South Carolina gardens. When in bloom, the 4- to 6-inch flowers may be either single or double and range in shades of pink and white. Many times, there will be multiple flower colors on one plant.
This perennial plant grows quickly to become a small, multibranched tree or large, spreading shrub that can get 6 to 15 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide. It grows best in part shade to full sun in USDA planting zones 7 through 11. This beautiful plant prefers well-drained, loamy soil. When watering, avoid wetting the leaves as this may lead to fungal diseases.
As cotton rose mallow is deciduous and loses its leaves after the first frost, do not prune back the bare branches until late winter or early spring. This protects the hollow plant stems from filling with water during the winter months, which can cause root rot. In the spring, new shoots will appear from the root system.
The large, palmately simple leaves can measure up to 7 inches across, adding interesting texture to the landscape. The good news is that cotton rose mallow is non-toxic to pets and is deer resistant.
The flowers provide a good source of pollen and nectar for bees and other pollinating insects. Add one of these beautiful plants to your landscape beds to provide lovely flowers throughout the late summer and autumn months.