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Spotlight On: Perennial Hisbiscus

Perennial Hibiscus

Scientific Name: Hibiscus

Common Name: Hibiscus

Plant Type: Perennial

Sun: Sun

Water:  Keep moist

Bloom Time:  Mid Summer through Fall

Bloom Color: Pink, Red, White

Height:  3 to 15 feet

When most people hear the word “Hibiscus,” they think of the tropical plant that many people use in their containers and the bright, beautiful colors it has.  There is another variety of hibiscus, that while not as popular, it is just as spectacular.

Perennial hibiscuses are larger plants then their tropical relatives, growing to be as tall as 15 feet.  They have huge blooms, often

six to eight inches in diameter, that may only last a day, but are abundant from mid-summer through the fall. Blooms range in color from pure white to deep red or bicolor.

Much like their tropical relatives, perennial hibiscus should be planted in an area with lots of sun.  They like to be kept in moist soil, but not soaking wet. 

No matter where you plant them in your garden, know that they do not begin to emerge from their dormant winter state until late May or early June.  So while the rest of your garden is getting started, you will have to wait to see your hibiscus until the soil has really warmed up.



Spotlight On: Iresine


Scientific Name: Iresine

Common Name:  Beefsteak Plant. Bloodleaf, Chicken Gizzard

Plant Type: Annual

Sun: Part Sun, Shade, Sun

Water:  Moderate

Foliage Color: Green, Burgundy, Bicolor, Purple

Height: 1 to 3 feet

Iresine, or bloodleaf as many gardener’s call it, is a great accent foliage for almost any container, as well as a great houseplant.  Much like coleus, iresine is known for its brightly colored foliage rather than a flower.

Iresine can be grown in sun or shade containers, and is a great for adding height.  The more sun the iresine gets, the more colorful its leaves will appear. Plants can grow to be anywhere between one to three feet in both height and width depending on the variety.  You can also keep the plant from getting to leggy and the shape fuller by pinching back the iresine plant.

Iresine is an annual in the Midwest, but can be brought in as a houseplant during the winter months.  When you keep iresine as a houseplant, keep the plant in a bright, southern-facing window.  You can tell if it is not getting proper light because it will begin to stretch for light, becoming quite leggy in appearance.  While iresine does not need as much water when it is indoors in the fall and winter months, do not let the soil dry out.

Whether it’s indoors or in your containers, iresine gives a great burst of color without a lot of maintenance.


Spotlight On: Butterfly Bush

Butterfly Bush

Scientific Name: Buddleia

Common Name: Butterfly Bush

Plant Type: Perennial

Sun: Sun

Water:  Moderate

Bloom Time:  Summer

Bloom Color: Blue, Pink, Red, White, Purple

Height:  3 to 10 feet

Butterfly Bushes are a great perennial that brings butterflies and hummingbirds to any garden.  The beautiful flower spikes smell wonderful to both butterflies and people, so everyone can enjoy these plants.

Their arching shape adds a unique look to any garden, with blooms that range in color from blue, pink, red, violet, yellow and white.  The overall size of the bush depends on the variety you purchase.  There are dwarf varieties that grow to be about three feet tall, while larger varieties grow to be ten feet tall.

To grow a healthy plant, find a sunny spot in your yard with moist, well-drained soil. Keep pruning the flowers as they finish blooming, or use them as cut flowers in a vase. 

Butterfly bushes are a perennial in the Midwest, but they can be tender perennials.  To be sure they make it through the winter, spread mulch up to six inches deep at the base of the plant.  The plant will die back but will come back the next spring.


Spotlight On: Zinnias


Scientific Name: Zinnia elegans

Common Name: Zinnias

Plant Type: Annual

Sun: Sun

Water:  Moderate

Bloom Time:  Summer

Bloom Color: Multi-color, Red, White, Yellow, Pink, Coral, Orange, Green

Height:  1 to 8 feet

Zinnias are beautiful annuals that bloom all summer long in sunny gardens.  Whether you start them from seed or already started plants, you will be guaranteed to have butterflies all summer long.

Zinnias are a daisy-like blooms that come in a variety of colors and shapes. From the most common zinnias that almost look like dahlias with layer of petals, to profusion zinnias that have a single layer of petals, to cactus zinnias that have curled, pointed petals, they are all beautiful. They also come in a variety of heights, from dwarf zinnias that grow to be about eight inches in height to the taller varieties that grow to be six feet in height.

If you are starting your zinnias from seed, sow seeds three to four weeks before the last frost, and if you are starting them from already started seedlings, plant them two weeks after the last frost date. They are tender with cooler temperatures, so be sure to watch the overnight lows during the first few weeks planted and cover if there is a possibility of frost.

Finally, when watering zinnias, be sure to water at the base of the plants and avoid getting the foliage wet.  This will help prevent any disease such a mildew from occurring, which can often occur with zinnias that do not have proper air circulation and are over watered.  Don’t be afraid to let the soil dry out a little bit in between waterings to help prevent any diseases.


Spotlight On: Hollyhocks

Our Spotlight Series continues to highlight different plants that are a great addition to any garden. Some you may know and others may be completely new to you.


Scientific Name: Alcea rosea

Common Name: Hollyhocks

Plant Type: Perennial

Sun: Sun

Water:  Moderate

Bloom Time:  Summer

Bloom Color: Blue, Pink, Red, White, Yellow, Purple

Height:  1 to 10 feet

Hollyhocks are a great perennial to add as an accent to any garden.  With beautiful blooms stacked on tall stalks, these flowers will not only attract butterflies and hummingbirds, but the eye of anyone who passes by your garden.

Hollyhocks can be started from seed or from starter plants. If you are starting with seeds, it is best to sow them outside a week before the last frost. If you start with plants, it is best to wait until two or three weeks after the last frost.

You will want to find a place in your yard that gets a lot of sun and has rich, well-drained soil. Most varieties are a biennial, meaning that they only grow foliage the first year and flower the second year.  While they are a short lived perennial, it is recommended to plant hollyhocks in groups to help with reseeding. 

There are some newer varieties that are more of a traditional perennial, meaning you’ll have flowers every year.  The Spotlight series is one of these varieties that is carried at Vern Goers Greenhouse and pictured above.

Happy Planting!