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Texas Star Swamp Mallow: Native Hibiscus

Hibiscus coccineus, Texas Star, Swamp Mallow
Shady Gardens Nursery
One of the showiest summer bloomers in our garden this time of year is the Texas Star Hibiscus. A native plant of the Southeastern United States, Hibiscus coccineus is also known as Swamp Hibiscus, probably due to its love for moist soil.


Hibiscus coccineus is very easy to grow. It grows well near a pond or stream, and really enjoys a soggy spot. We have no pond, stream, or soggy spot in our garden--our Hibiscus is located in ordinary garden soil (that means dry hard clay in Georgia language). Admittedly, I do water it on occasion, but it grows bushier each year--we've had it several years now.


You can grow Hibiscus coccineus if you live anywhere in the south and as far north as USDA Zone 6!



Even before blooms begin in summer, Texas Star is a spectacular presence in the garden. Palmate leaves resemble Japanese Maple foliage and even have a reddish tinge.

Blooms are showy red star-shaped flowers appearing throughout summer and into Fall. The flowers can be up to 6 inches across!

Hibiscus coccineus dies down to the ground in winter but re-emerges in spring. By mid-summer this hibiscus will be 6-8 feet tall and look more like a shrub than an herbaceous perennial.

Texas Star Hibiscus does need full sun to bloom well, and you'll need to water it weekly when rainfall is absent. Also a regular application of compost or composted manure will keep it growing well for you.

Source for Texas Star Hibiscus: Shady Gardens Nursery.

Oakleaf Hydrangea: Easy to Grow Native Plant

Hydrangea quercifolia Alice already taking on her rosey glow
Oakleaf Hydrangea is my favorite hydrangea, because it’s beautiful in every season! 

In winter, the branches exhibit lovely cinnamon colored exfoliating bark, and the large flower buds already forming are attractive. 

In spring, the new leaves are a reddish purple. 

In summer, there are the very large panicles of white blooms that turn purplish by summer’s end, hanging on into fall. 

In fall, the leaves turn a rich mahogany red, contrasting beautifully with the then dried rosy brown flower stalks used by many in floral arrangements. 

Oakleaf hydrangea is one of our most beautiful American native shrubs, and should be in every garden, especially native plant gardens! 

Hydrangea quercifolia is much easier to grow than other hydrangeas. The fact that it is native to the southeastern United States is probably the reason for that. It’s accustomed to our summer droughts, making it more drought-tolerant than other hydrangeas. It isn’t picky about soil. And oakleaf hydrangea can take more sun than most other hydrangeas. 

And I believe it really is true that you learn something every day, because, although you might already know this, I didn't realize until this year as I passed our largest shrub that the Oakleaf Hydrangea is fragrant!