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The Confederate Rose, Hibiscus Mutabilis
The Confederate Rose or Cotton Rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) is a shrub that can grow into a small tree from China that thrives in the southern gulf coast of the United States. It can reach a height of fifteen to twenty feet tall and have a spread of ten feet. The foliage has a coarse texture on the underside and the size of the leaves range in size from five inches to seven inches.
In the Dallas Fort Worth area the Confederate Rose will drop its leaves after first frost and soon after, the live wood will die back. Cut the dead wood to the ground and cover the stumps with leave or wood mulch.The plant will grow back from the roots starting in late May and will continue to vigorously grow until the weather starts to freeze again.
From late summer to October, it will be in full bloom. The ones in the pictures didn’t seem to start blooming until early October and bloom until mid November.
In the morning the blooms will start out white or light pink and grow darker throughout the day, until it reaches a deep pink/red in color. Most blooms only last twenty four hours. The blooms are delicate and range in size from three to five inches. After the blooms have died, a small round seed pod forms. Once the pod has dried, the pod can be removed and the seeds can be harvested.
The Confederate Rose needs little care. Once established, it will thrive in most soil types, but it prefers a soil high in organic materials and loves water. In warmer climates, make sure to mulch them and they need to be water daily. Even with enough water they tend to shrivel up until dusk. Once the sun goes down, the leaves spring back to life.
Besides the general beauty of the Confederate Rose, I love how easy it is to propagate them. The easiest way to propagate them is to take green or woody cuttings in the spring or just after first frost. Then add those cuttings to a bucket of water (change water every several days). Once roots form, put them in a bucket of potting soil that is heavy in organic material.
Confederate Rose Features
Common Names: Confederate Rose, Cotton Rose
Scientific Name: Hibiscus mutabilis
Plant Type: Deciduous, Velvet/Fuzzy-Textured
Flower Color: Pink, Red, White/Near White
Plant Color: Green and Woody
Bloom Time: Late Summer/Early Fall
Growth Rate: Vigorous
Hardiness: USDA Zones 7a-11
Water needs: Water regularly; do not overwater. Water daily for warmer climates
Propagation: Cuttings taken from green wood in spring, mature wood after first frost. Propagation can also be done by seed, direct sow after last frost.