Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Colquhounia coccinea...I check the plants every few days searching for buds. No buds so far but I found this vigilant predator

We push the envelope here at the Arboretum just as many of us do in our personal gardens. This is a USDA Zone 8 evergreen shrub, but a dieback for us. I think it likely that it can flower on new wood, but have seen no buds to this point. With at least? six weeks till our first frost, I'm not too worried....still.

The other plant I'm monitoring, in fact another dieback, is Hibiscus mutabilis, a large-flowered ~tropical~ Chinese Hibiscus that has been a passalong plant in our southern states for more than a century. The specific epithet mutabilis refers to the color progession (from white through pink to red) that the flowers undergo as they age. In Zones 9 and 10 the stems of the Confederate Rose survive winters and the plant can reach upwards of 12 feet. They tower over our double-wides! Zone 8, and our own Zone 7, with colder winters that kill back above ground growth, produce the dieback type growth pattern. Our plants are only a couple of years old and so far the buds have been frost killed before the flowers opened. This year we've got buds well underway and I expect to see at least some flowers. There will be pictures!

I have to think that until recent warm winters contravened tradition, that H. mutabilis didn't work well in this area. Passalong plants generally spread to the limits of their survival, indeed occasionally defying accepted notions of hardiness. If it would have grown here, it would have been grown here. I say, but I'm not certain. Maybe there are pockets of Confederate Rose in Baltimore!

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