Hibiscus coccineus [hi-BIS-kus, kok-SIN-ee-us] is a hardy Hibiscus species from the mallow family, Malvaceae.
Hence, it has earned the common name ‘scarlet rosemallow’.
It is also known commonly as:
- Texas star hibiscus
- Scarlet hibiscus
- Red hibiscus
- Swamp hibiscus
- Wild red mallow
- Brilliant hibiscus
The Texas Star Hibiscus plant is native to swampy and marshy habitats where they grow in ditched in coastal plains.
They are found in the Southeastern United States, from southeastern Virginia to Florida and west Louisiana.
Interestingly enough, the Texas star hibiscus is not naturally a Texas-native.
Despite this, this native is known by the aforementioned name among gardening enthusiasts.
The specific epithet of the botanical name, on the other hand, refers to the deep red or scarlet flowers the plant bears in mid-summer to early fall.
Texas Star Hibiscus Care
Size & Growth
Under the right growing conditions, scarlet hibiscus stems can grow anywhere between 3’ – 6’ feet tall and have a spread 2’ – 3’ feet wide.
During the growing season, the Texas star produces hemp-like, palmately compound foliage.
Deep green leaves are 5” – 6” inches wide, contrasting beautifully with the large red flowers.
Flowering and Fragrance
June to September, the scarlet rose mallow plant flowers abundantly.
The large flowers are 5-petaled and approximately 3” – 5” inches in diameters and borne on the upper leaf axis.
These Texas star blooms are loved by amateur gardeners for their unique appearance.
Bees and other pollinators love them for their delicious nectar.
Light & Temperature
When grown in enriched wet soils, the plant thrives in the full sun.
The Texas star also tolerates partial shade or light shade, especially in spring and summer when the climate is very hot and dry.
Hardy to USDA Hardiness Zones 5 through 10, scarlet hibiscus die back to the ground in the winter and grow back in spring.
However, some plants may be hardy to USDA Zone 6 when given sufficient mulch.
Watering and Feeding
The Texas star loves water. In temperate climates, provide 1” – 3” inches of water in a week.
Increase the amount if the summers are specifically hot and dry, even though the plant is tolerant of summer heat and humidity.
Feed plants once a month in the growing season – spring and summer.
Use a balanced fertilizer blend, following the lowest monthly rate mentioned on the package for healthy new growth.
Soil & Transplanting
The plant thrives in garden soils with excellent moisture retention.
Use an average, medium to wet soil mixture with good drainage.
This will help regulate moisture, preventing root rot caused by very wet soils.
The Texas star transplant well.
When transplanting the swamp native, choose a moist location in the garden, adding compost and mulch at time of planting.
Grooming and Maintenance
These plants are relatively easy to care for with only a few things to keep in mind.
Hibiscus Texas star may require staking when the climate is windy and rainy.
As for pruning, cut back the plant to the ground in early winter.
The cold doesn’t kill the plant, prune the plant half its height in late winter to control its size.
Also, protect the plant tops with a 5” inch layer of mulch.
How To Propagate Hibiscus Coccineus
While the commercial availability of Texas star hibiscus is strong, the plants are very easy to propagate with seeds.
Collect the seeds and sow them in soil once the last frost has passed and early spring has arrived.
Hibiscus seeds should be collected once the seed pods have dried on the plant.
Start the plants indoors and transplant seedlings when they are long and strong enough to be handled.
Also, propagate through tip and stem cuttings.
Hibiscus Rose Mallow Pest or Diseases
Swamp hibiscus are known to attract grasshoppers. They attack and munch on the foliage and flower buds.
Remove these manually with your hands or visit your local nursery for a solution.
The plants are also susceptible to diseases such as blight, canker, rust, and leaf spots.
Also, keep an eye out for aphids, Hibiscus whiteflies, and Japanese beetles.
Texas Star Hibiscus Uses
The huge flowers on H. coccineus are what make them popular in the garden.
The plants are large enough to fit in the rear of flower beds and along perennial borders.
Texas hibiscus look great in mixed borders and courtyards.
You could also group them together in moist, marsh-like areas along pond or stream edges.
During the bloom time, collect the flowers and use them in bouquets with other wildflowers.
Lastly, the pollen-ridden blooms are like beacons for pollinators.
Bees, hummingbirds, and bees are often found buzzing around it, making it a suitable addition to pollinator gardens.