13 September 2022

Mallowed Out

I've been in love with hibiscus since before I learned the flower's name. I love hibiscus tea. I can't wait to snap hibiscus photos every August. I just can't get enough hibiscus.

A few years ago, I bought a giant red hibiscus plant at the Farmer's Market. At the end of the (glorious) season, I planted it next to the then much smaller hibiscus that came with the house. The following year, the giant hibiscus had only one or two blooms. And the following year, it was as if it had died. It did finally begin growing new branches, but it again didn't make many flowers.

In the meantime, I pruned the small, scraggly hibiscus that came with the house. The next year, it grew more branches and more flowers. I pruned it again. The next year and every year after so far, it has continued to grow bushier and more productive. Neighborhood hummingbirds LOVE my now big hibiscus bush!

The giant hibiscus became smaller and smaller each year and didn't bloom the last two years it made new branches. Two years ago, during the hot and smoky pandemic year, it disappeared altogether. So last year, I bought a new giant hibiscus at the Farmer's Market. The seller told me it can't survive below 15 degrees, and to bring it inside during cold spells. Which meant I couldn't plant it.

This year, that giant hibiscus grew new branches; the old branches appear to be dead. I did get quite a few spectacular flowers. But nothing on the old wood. Even though it spent its winter in the basement.

I made a run to the closest nursery a couple of weekends ago to buy my first fresh roasted Hatch chilies since 2019. I made the mistake of looking around the nursery to see what was on sale, and I came home with more than just chilies. I bought a mature bright red coneflower plant and another hibiscus, which the nursery owner assured me would survive our cold and snowy Colorado winters. (Hummingbirds are attracted to red, and I have this thing about hummingbirds.) The new hibiscus might get a late start each summer, she said, but it will survive January and February.

Both had been outside in the sun at the nursery all summer long, so I didn't think they would need a hardening at my house. I put them in the ground after the 94-degree heat adequately cooled down. I gave each a good soaking, and I watered like regular the next day. On Day Two at my house, both days reaching a high of 94 again (and breaking our old September records set in 2020), both new plants looked fried. I have been watering both right at the base of the plant every morning and night since then. I think the coneflower is going to survive, although I lost all the beautiful blooms it sported when I bought it. And one branch of the new hibiscus seems to be pullling out of its slump.

I've since noticed five like plants in the neighborhood the last couple of weeks, each taller than mine, bushier and full of healthy flowers.

Perhaps next year my new outdoor hibiscus will begin to thrive the way the one that came with the house did and does. I am not giving up hope, even though I feel a tiny bit as if I've been suckered...

1 comment :

Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

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