Monday, June 08, 2009

Cameo Queen Puts On Spectacular Appearance More Than Once

As most of my gardening listeners know I'm not a tropical enthusiast except for the 'no-shoveling-snow' routine. But I do incorporate tropicals into my garden when they touch my soul. I have to find a balmy bed in the dirt somewhere in my garden so that I can visit them as I walk around my garden paths.

Out of the four Hibiscus rosa-sinensis spp. bushes I have in my yard, my favorite is my 'Cameo Queen' also known as 'Ruffled Giant.' Ruffled it is and it does become giant! Growing in a rich, organic oak litter soil in partial sun, it stretches up nine feet tall. And that's in partial sun! It blooms its heart out midway up the shrub and on up to the top, but deep dark, large green leaves from the ground. More about no blooms at the bottom further.

Unlike hibiscus spp. in sandy soils, the 'Cameo Queen' has survived nicely during the drought, not getting a lot of water without rain. I chalk that up to the composted soil, oak leaves, microbes, and earthworms around the roots. I don't fertilize it often plus I don't overwater it. I make it be as responsible for its own survival as possible. No welfare assistance here.

It helps to have the 'Cameo Queen' in partial sun as well. It also stayed green and does not lose any leaves in our subtropical zone of 9b. Again, the microclimate is helped with the assistance of a 6" fence and oak trees in between two homes.

Do you know what variety of hibiscus you have in your yard? Here's a great way to identify it without hauling your plant to Hawaii or Australia. More pictures and expert advice on how to grow hibiscus.

Now for the reason my hibiscus doesn't bloom within 3' feet of the ground. The blooms are edible. Our 11 year old brindle Scottish terrier, Maggie loves to pull the flowers off lower shrub branches (much like cows strip lower leaves off tree limbs) and devour them. She doesn't even ask me if it's okay. I think that's why she doesn't lose weight. She's obviously an omnivore (and in need of a summer haircut).

Hibiscus are easy to grow but do have some pest issues. Even up north, you can grow these tropical beauties because hibiscus do extremely well in containers. Just move the plant in and out into a sunny area as the weather changes. It will be more important in the northern climes to have at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day.

Hibiscus flowers always have multiple appearances during the year, but this 'Cameo Queen' will be the star of your garden.

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