Plants serve an architectural function by defining the floors, walls and ceilings of our outdoor rooms. Plants can also serve an architectural function by highlighting or masking architectural features of a house or building.
Plants serve an engineering function by: influencing how we walk through the landscape; blocking objectionable views on or off the property; establishing buffers between divergent activities; and minimizing drainage or erosion issues.
You must decide how your plants will best function in your landscape. Here a some ideas.
Even a newbie gardener knows that for plants to thrive, they need good soil, sunlight, and water. But that’s not all there is to a recipe for success in the garden: You also need to make sure the plants you choose will actually be happy in your yard.
While this sounds simple enough, things turn complicated the second you head to the nursery and find yourself completely overwhelmed by the selection. Big, beautiful flowering shrubs, promising saplings, and even those showy annuals all start vying for your attention.
So how do you choose the best plants for your garden? Check out this article, and future related ones, to help you make an intelligent decision.
Factor to consider: Climate
Source: Wisconsin Horticulture – Division of Extension
Title photo credit: usagardencenter.com
The first in a series of articles about plant choice in your landscAPE.
Hibiscus flowers (Hibiscus spp.) are one of the easiest plants to grow to give your garden a burst of vibrant color. Their bright, five-colored petals surround a long floral tube, the large flowers standing out against the green oval-shaped leaves. Available in a variety of sizes, some species can grow up to 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide when fully mature, according to The Spruce. Hibiscus flowers are widely associated with the warm, tropical climates to which they are native, including Madagascar, Fiji, Mauritius, and Hawaii, where it represents the culture as the state flower (per Hidden Valley Hibiscus).
Growing hibiscus plants doesn’t require a lot of hard work, especially if you set them up to succeed before their blooming season in the summer to early fall. To plant your hibiscus, you’ll need a few supplies such as well-draining, slightly acidic soil, a trowel, mulch, and a designated, sunny area of your yard, according to Almanac. It’s easier to select young hibiscus plants from a local garden center or nursery, but if you decide to plant from seed, you’ll need to sow them 12 weeks before the region’s frost date. They can also be sown outside before the last frost date, but it makes the growing process longer.
Choose a spot in your garden that received full to partial sun, and is protected from strong winds. Use a trowel to dig a hole in the ground slightly larger than your young, potted hibiscus. If you’re planting multiple hibiscus plants, keep about 2 to 3 feet of space between them. Place the plant into its new home with the stem sticking out above the ground, and add well-draining soil to fill in any gaps. Pack the top of the soil with mulch to retain moisture and prevent root damage during cold weather. Water the plants regularly to keep their soil moist, especially at the beginning of their growing season. You can reduce watering in colder seasons.
How To Care For Hibiscus Flowers
Hibiscus flowers only bloom for a couple of days, but if they’re grown properly they’ll continuously produce new flowers as their old ones fall off according to The Spruce. In order to prevent their flowers from dropping prematurely, keep them in warmer temperatures and out of the cold. They enjoy temperatures from 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Regular pruning will also keep your plants healthy and long-lasting. They should be pruned during the winter once they’ve reached their mature stage after they have ceased blooming. Trimming off deadened leaves and damaged branches will keep the hibiscus plants alive longer.
Feeding the plants fertilizer will also help them reach their full bloom potential, per The Spruce. Fertilizers containing nutrients such as potassium and nitrogen are great to have along with formulas containing organic matter such as fish emulsion and seaweed extract. You’ll want to feed them with a half-strength solution before they first begin to bloom, and then switch over to fertilizing them every couple of weeks.
Hibiscus Flower Varieties
There are hundreds of different hibiscus species that are native to Asia and the Pacific Islands, according to The Tropical Hibiscus. Hibiscus flowers can grow as single flowers or large shrubs growing from 3 to 10 feet tall and 2 to 8 feet wide. Although there are different varieties, they fall under three separate categories: tropical, perennial, and hardy. Tropical hibiscus plants can’t tolerate cold temperatures at all, whereas perennial hibiscus’ hibernate over the winter to remerge the following spring. The most resilient, hardy hibiscus plants can last through the winter.
Though beautiful, the hibiscus plant can, unfortunately, cause some harm to your pets. The Humane Society of Charlotte reports that varieties such as “Rose of Sharon” (Hibiscus syriacus) are known to be harmful if ingested by your pets. Dogs may experience symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea if they consume the flower, and cats can be poisoned by both the stems and flowers of the plant. It is not known why some species of hibiscus are toxic to pets and others are not, but nevertheless, it is better to be safe rather than sorry and protect your pets from all hibiscus species.