Another one of my favorite shrubs, the Hibiscus. I love the vibrant color flowers that these produce. There are tons of different colors and varieties of this plant, each just as beautiful and colorful as the rest. They are originally from China, and made its way here through the Pacific and Hawaii. Since it’s not native here, it is technically considered an invasive plant grown in many tropic regions. Most of the flowers are considered one day flowers, meaning they open in the morning and begin to wilt in the afternoon. Luckily here in Florida, the flowering season for Hibiscus is nearly all year long, so we can almost alway see these pretty flowers.
This more bushy plant does better being left to grow rather than trimmed or shaped. They can range from small and bushy, but can grow as tall as 20 feet. If planting multiple Hibiscus plants, its recommended to leave about 4-5 feet between each plant to allow them space to grow. They will do much better in the southern half of Florida, because a younger smaller Hibiscus will be wiped to in temperatures lower than 30 degrees. So take precaution incase of the off chance of a Florida freeze.
When planting make sure to take note of the amount of sunlight. Full sun is preferred, but as long as the plant gets half a day of sunlight they should do well. They do not like areas of High Saturation, so also make sure the area it is planted drains well when choosing its location. Also check the pH of the soil when planting. A pH of 5.5-6.5 is optimal. Too alkaline of soil can lead to nutrient deficiencies. If you have issues with the color of the plant you can add some Manganese to help correct this.
Keep an eye out for pests on Hibiscus. Many different types of chewing insects can be found on them including Caterpillars, Grasshoppers, leaf miners, etc. Also keep an eye out for sucking insects such as Mealybugs, Spider Mites, Aphids, whitefly, and thrips. Pest problems will be more likely in areas with poor air circulation, so keep this in mind when planting.
A common issue I’ve seen with Hibiscus is root rot. As mentioned before, these plants do not like wet feet. So keeping the soil from being too saturated it important. If they do start to have root rot issues, they will wilt and die quickly. Ive found in this case if you hit them with Heritage (a very strong Fungicide) and fertilize them heavy to push some new growth, they will some times pull through. If the damage is too far, the plant will not survive.
This weeks Shrub is the “Gold Mound” Duranta. This is a very common shrub found in many landscapes. When properly maintained, they will have a very bright vibrant color to them, which is why they are a great accent shrub for any home.
Gold Mounds prefer full sun, to partial shade. The more sun they get the better because they will have more of a green color in areas of shade. Many people will use them as a hedge, but this can be too distracting and take attention away from more important things, such as your beautiful home. I recommend using it more as an accent piece to attract attention to certain points in the landscape. I think they look best when matched with darker plants such as the Loropetalums, since they have such a big contrast from each other. Place them 2-3 feet from each other when planting to give them plenty of room to spread.
When planting Gold Mounds, make sure the are where you place them has good drainage to prevent possible root issues. Make sure to add some organic soil or peat moss to the area where you are going to plant them to make sure the soil has plenty of nutrients. As with all shrubs, make sure when you transfer them from the pot to the ground that you break up the roots before placing them in the ground. This will help prevent the plant from becoming pot bound, leading to its demise.
You may see your common shrub pests on Gold Mounds. Scale, Thrips, White Flys, etc. During the winter months it is susceptible to frost damage. Keep an eye out for blackened leaves, damage from the cold weather. This will eventually grow out in the spring growing season. Keep an eye out for small black spots on the leaves. This is a sign of a fungal disease called cylindrocladium. This will cause the plant to defoliate. If this happens, a fungicide treatment will be needed, and make sure to remove to fallen infected leaves to prevent it from spreading.
If you have any insect or fungal issues, I highly recommend seeking out the help of a Lawn Care Professional. They will have the products and equipment needed to take care of any of these issues for you.
Im going to try something different and present a different shrub each week. The first one I’m bringing up is one of my favorites, the Loropetalum. There are several different varieties of this plant, most being a nice purple color when properly maintained (as you can see pictured above and below)
This plant is not native to North America, and was actually brought over from China and Japan. Its a pretty hardy plant and can survive in temperatures down to 0 degrees fahrenheit without severe damage. In severe heat and dry periods the plant will start to become discolored. In spring is will produce a right pink flower with much thinner leaves. New growth will have a greener color to it, but will turn purple.
It will do best in full Sun the partial shade. So make sure when planting to keep this in mind in order to ensure the plant stays healthy and full. I’ve witnessed too many times people putting this in areas with too much shade, and the plant eventually thins out and dies. I also recommend checking the pH of the soil before planting. Loropetalums prefer a slightly more acidic soil. If the soil is too alkaline if will become discolored and appear like the picture below. If you notice your plant start to look like this I recommend fertilizing it with 21-0-0. This is an Ammonium Sulfate based fertilized which will help raise the acidity of the soil. We will discuss this more in detail later.
The most common issue you will find with the Loropetalum will be either micronutrient or copper deficiencies. You want to make sure that your loropetalums have the proper amounts of Copper, Zinc, and Manganese. Copper is the most important of these. If it is lacking Copper I recommend applying a Soluble Copper. You can also try applying Tecmangam, a Manganese Sulfate, to the shrub to improve the color if other options have not worked. Be careful using this product, it will stain very easy. Whatever you decide to use remember, THE LABEL IS THE LAW! Make sure any products your use, you apply at the rates listed on the label of the bottle. I highly recommend contacting your local Lawn Care Professional when having any issues with your shrubs. They will have the proper products and equipment to take care of your lawn and shrub issues.