Hibiscus Coccineus. The scarlet hibiscus is one of the largest and most beautiful of North America’s native flowers. It was grown by General Washington in 1792. The scarlet hibiscus is a slender, shrubby herbaceous perennial that dies in winter and re-sprouts in spring.
Established plants can have one to several stems up to 7 feet tall. The five-petaled flowers are brilliant crimson red and are 6-8 inches across. Each last only a day but new ones continue to open all summer and fall.
The scarlet hibiscus occurs naturally in swamps, marshes and ditches from southern Georgia and Alabama to central Florida. It is often encountered along southern rivers and streams. It requires full sun and prefers moist soil. It is best suited for the back of the border or along a pond’s edge.
Seed can be sown indoors 12 weeks before the last spring frost. Soak seeds in very warm water for one hour before sowing. Seed can also be sown in place outdoors after the last expected frost date or fresh seed can be sown in fall. Collect seed for fall sowing once the papery seed capsules brown and start to split. Plants often bloom from seed in their first year and will often self-seed in suitable soil conditions.
Heirloom seeds are collected from the gardens and grounds of George Washington's Mount Vernon and cleaned and packaged by hand.