Botanical Name: Hibiscus coccineus
Common Name: Scarlet Hibiscus, Scarlet Rosemallow
Description: Scarlet hibiscus is one of Florida’s showiest native wildflowers. It is an herbaceous to semi-woody perennial wildflower that has a native habitat along wetland and stream edges, and in swamps and other wet, open sites. In late summer, it produces large, crimson blooms that remain open for only one day. Scarlet hibiscus is a profuse bloomer, however, and will typically produce many flowers throughout the summer. Like other plants with deep red flowers, it is very attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators.
It isn’t drought tolerant, but it will adapt to regular gardening irrigation as long as it gets supplemental water in drought times. Grows best in sun, part sun, or part shade situations. Won’t bloom as heavily in deep shade. It is a great addition to any moist or wet landscape or in areas that receive plenty of moisture. Awesome rain garden option. It quickly grows to 3–8′ tall with 2–5’ spread.
It is the larval host of Gray Hairstreak, Painted Lady Butterfly, Common Checkered Skipper, and Tropical Checkered Skipper butterflies, and four moths : Pearly Wood Nymph, Yellow Scallop Moth, Io Moth, and Delightful Bird-Dropping Moths. Attracts butterflies and native bees (including the Rose-mallow Bee which is a Hibiscus specialist), beetles, etc.
Scarlet hibiscus flowers are large (4 to 8 inches in diameter) with five bright red petals, a five-lobed green calyx, and linear bracts. Flowers are born in leaf axils. Leaves are glabrous, palmate and deeply lobed with long petioles. Margins are toothed, and leaf arrangement is alternate. Stems and petioles may be reddish. Seeds are born in ovoid five-celled capsules. Each cell may contain many seeds.
This plant is also edible and has medicinal value.
Not salt tolerant of inundation by salty or brackish water. Low/no tolerance of salty wind or direct salt spray.
This plant in 1-gallon containers is 1-2′ tall.
This plant in 3-gallon containers is 2-4′ tall.
Plant Lore: The genus name Hibiscus is from the Greek hibiskos, or “mallow.” The species epithet coccineus is from the Greek kókkinos, meaning “scarlet red.” Its deeply divided leaves look somewhat like marijuana leaves.
Florida Hardiness Zones 8 – 11