The 10 Best Perennial Hibiscus That Come Back Every Year

Written by Jennifer Haase
Published: December 10, 2022
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The perennial hibiscus is an impressive plant with showy blooms that add tropical vibes to any garden. Its colorful trumpet-shaped flowers might be as small as a few inches across or could be over 12 inches in diameter! Knowing each variety’s bloom size, color, and unique characteristics will help you choose the right plants. So let’s review those details for the ten best perennial hibiscuses that come back every year!

First, let’s look at five simple tips for selecting the right hibiscus plants for your gardening space. Then you’ll have a better idea of which of the ten perennial hibiscuses featured below to add to your garden plans.

Quick Tips for Choosing and Growing Hibiscus Plants

1. Reserve garden space with 6-8 hours of sun per day for your hibiscus plants because they grow best in full sun and well-draining soil.

2. Take note of the height at maturity for each plant since perennial hibiscus varieties grow 8-12 feet tall!

3. Hibiscus plants need pruning annually or bi-annually to encourage the growth of more branches and flowers.

4. Be aware of your area’s climate; some hibiscus varieties are more tender (less hardy) than others and may not be suitable for colder climates.

5. Protect your plants from garden pests eating hibiscus plants, like aphids, mealybugs, thrips, and whiteflies. To do so, add a mixture of dishwashing liquid and water to a spray bottle. First, spray the plants to kill the bugs, then rinse your plants with the garden hose. Or you could try a mixture of vinegar and dishwashing liquid in your spray bottle, but using only vinegar is not recommended.

With these tips in mind, let’s take a closer look at the ten best perennial hibiscuses that come back every year!

1. Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

Rose of Sharon or Hardy Hibiscus
Rose of Sharon produces vibrant single or double flowers with huge stamens.

©iStock.com/matunka

The Rose of Sharon is a showy perennial shrub that can grow 10-12 feet tall! Fortunately, this perennial hibiscus can withstand partial shade, is drought-tolerant, and might grow well in poor soil. However, planting this hibiscus in full sun with nutrient-rich soil helps it stay dynamic and healthy year after year.

Rose of Sharon produces vibrant single or double flowers with huge stamens. Its large blooms are sometimes confused with hollyhocks because they look so similar.

Plant type: deciduous shrub

Hardiness zones: 5 to 8

Plant size at maturity: up to 12 feet tall, up to a 10-foot spread

Bloom seasons: mid-summer to early fall

Flower size: up to 3 inches across

Bloom colors: light pink, dark pink, white

2. Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos)

Hibiscus Moscheutos
As with most hibiscus plants, the hardy hibiscus is a pollinator magnet.

©OlesyaKas/Shutterstock.com

Hardy hibiscus is a shrub-like perennial that grows up to 7 feet tall and thrives in areas with wet soil. It’s tolerant of heat but probably not drought. However, this is another hibiscus that rewards gardeners with big beautiful flowers that resemble hollyhocks. The flowers are crepe paper-thin and grow up to 10 inches across. In addition, the center eyes of this plant’s blooms are usually dark pink or red. Still, you might find some varieties with white centers instead.

When the hardy hibiscus is in bloom, it really puts on a show! You might get 10-20 tropical blossoms per day in mid-summer.

As with most hibiscus plants, the hardy hibiscus is a pollinator magnet. Watch the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds flock to your plants! Also, the hardy hibiscus is often a host for caterpillars who attach themselves to the leaves, spin their cacoons, and transform into butterflies. So this is an excellent plant for a butterfly garden.

Plant type: deciduous shrub

Hardiness zones: 5 to 9

Plant size at maturity: up to 7 feet tall, 4-5 foot spread

Bloom seasons: mid-summer to the first frost

Flower size: up to 10 inches across

Bloom colors: pink, white, red, and purple

3. Cranberry Hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella)

Cranberry hibiscus blooms are relatively small, only about 2-4 inches across.

©Michael Schoonover/Shutterstock.com

The cranberry hibiscus might be perfect for your garden if you love a shrubby perennial with showy foliage. Its striking dark foliage is deep reddish-purple with lobed leaves. Gardeners love this hibiscus as an ornamental plant, even when it doesn’t produce flowers.

Cranberry hibiscus blooms are relatively small, only about 2-4 inches across. But the blossoms are lovely with bright red or soft pink petals and cranberry-red centers, depending on the hibiscus cultivar.

Plant type: woody, herbaceous perennial shrub

Hardiness zones: 9 to 11

Plant size at maturity: up to 8 feet tall, up to 6 feet wide

Bloom seasons: late spring until the first frost

Flower size: 2-4 inches across

Bloom colors: pink, red, white

4. Halberd-Leaved Rose Mallow (Hibiscus laevis)

This hibiscus loves wet soils, so it is an excellent choice for planting near a garden pond, stream, or marshy area.

©annfossa/Shutterstock.com

With 6-inch pink or white flowers on top of tall stems, the halberd-leaved rose mallow hibiscus is a native wildflower worth growing. Its delicate cup-shaped blooms have five petals that open in daylight and close at dusk. Additionally, this hibiscus loves wet soils, so it is an excellent choice for planting near a garden pond, stream, or marshy area.

What is this referred to as a halberd-leaved plant? Because this hibiscus has leaves that look a bit like the halberd — an axe on a long pole used in the 13th-16th centuries in Europe.

Plant type: herbaceous perennial

Hardiness zones: 4-9

Plant size at maturity: up to 6 feet tall, 3-4 foot spread

Bloom seasons: late spring to early fall

Flower size: up to 6 inches across

Bloom colors: pink or white

5. Ma’o Hau Hele (Hibiscus brackenridgei)

This beloved Hawaiian hibiscus is endangered, so the more gardeners that grow it, the better!

©Olga S photography/Shutterstock.com

The ma’o hau hele hibiscus is Hawaii’s state flower. It produces bright yellow or orange blooms that grow 4-6 inches in diameter. This beloved Hawaiian hibiscus is endangered, so the more gardeners that grow it, the better! However, beware that the yellow hibiscus reaches up to 15 feet tall and wide! For this reason, the ma’o hau hele is sometimes called a small tree.

Though the yellow hibiscus is an endemic species (usually grows in only one geographic area), gardeners in hardiness zones 9-11 could successfully grow these perennial shrubs. And it’s rarity makes this plant one of the best perennial hibiscus plants that come back every year for people determined to keep this dazzling flower around for generations to come.

Plant type: perennial shrub or small tree

Hardiness zones: 9 to 11

Plant size at maturity: up to 15 feet tall and wide

Bloom seasons: spring to the first frost

Flower size: up to 6 inches across

Bloom colors: yellow and orange

6. Scarlet Rose Mallow (Hibiscus coccineus)

Scarlet rose mallow is also called swamp hibiscus for being a water-loving plant.

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The scarlet rose mallow (or rosemallow) is an easy-to-grow, water-loving perennial hibiscus. It grows 6-8 feet tall and produces medium to large red flowers. And, as with most hibiscus plants, the scarlet rose mallow prefers moist to wet soil in a sunny garden.

Scarlet rose mallow is also called swamp hibiscus for being a water-loving plant. So if you’re looking for the perfect bushy plant to add to a rain garden or boggy landscape, this hibiscus is right for you!

The shape and spacing of this plant’s petals differ from other hibiscus blooms. At full bloom, its five petals pull away from each other like an outstretched hand. Additionally, the deep red color of the blooms sometimes makes them appear nearly black.

Plant type: herbaceous perennial

Hardiness zones: 6-9

Plant size at maturity: 6-8 feet tall, 3-foot spread

Bloom seasons: late spring to fall

Flower size: 3-6 inches across

Bloom colors: dark red or blackish-red

7. Confederate Rose (Hibiscus mutabilis)

Similar to the yellow hibiscus of Hawaii, the confederate rose reaches up to 15 feet tall like a small tree.

©suprabhat/Shutterstock.com

The confederate rose is a showy award-winning perennial hibiscus with fluffy round blooms in shades of white and pink. This plant is a showstopper for its beauty and shifting colors. It’s sometimes called the changeable rose because its flowers may change from white to light pink to hot pink between morning and night. So it’s understandable why this spectacular hibiscus received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit!

Similar to the yellow hibiscus of Hawaii, the confederate rose reaches up to 15 feet tall like a small tree. And as long as it has plenty of water in well-draining soil, this shrubby hibiscus is a low-maintenance plant.

Plant type: deciduous shrub

Hardiness zones: 7-11

Plant size at maturity: 6 to 15 feet tall, 6-10 foot spread

Bloom seasons: late summer to fall

Flower size: 4-6 inches across

Bloom colors: white and pink, changing color throughout the day

8. Woolly Rose Mallow (Hibiscus lasiocarpos)

Hibiscus lasiocarpos
If you’re looking to support bee populations in your area, the woolly rose mallow is a bee magnet!

©Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock.com

The Woolly Rose Mallow is a perennial hibiscus with downy foliage that looks like it has a light layer of fuzz. This plant’s fruit capsules are especially furry! Moreover, the woolly rose mallow produces gorgeous blooms that take your breath away. Its 4-6 inch flowers range from white to pale pink. However, this plant blooms only last one day! Fortunately, new woolly rose mallow blooms pop up repeatedly from summer to fall.

If you’re looking to support bee populations in your area, the woolly rose mallow is a bee magnet! In particular, the rose-mallow bee (Ptilothrix bombiformis) is a specialist bee that feeds on the pollen from this hibiscus plant.

Plant type: herbaceous perennial

Hardiness zones: 5-9

Plant size at maturity: 3-7 feet tall, 3-4 foot spread

Bloom seasons: late summer to fall

Flower size: 4-6 inches across

Bloom colors: white or light pink

9. Comfortroot (Hibiscus aculeatus)

Comfortroot
The comfortroot grows up to 6 feet tall in sunny garden beds.

©Matt Hopkins/Shutterstock.com

The Comfortroot is a hardy perennial wildflower with 3-4 inch white or yellow pleated blooms. This plant is another perennial hibiscus that loves wet soil and humid weather. However, this hibiscus is also relatively drought-tolerant for brief periods as long as it gets plenty of water for most of the year. In addition, the comfortroot grows up to 6 feet tall in sunny garden beds.

What sets the Comfortroot apart from other hibiscus is its root system. With its long, slender roots, this plant can absorb and store water for dry periods. As a result, it’s an ideal choice for gardens with poor drainage or rocky soil.

Plant type: herbaceous perennial

Hardiness zones: 7-10

Plant size at maturity: 3-6 feet tall, 2-3 foot spread

Bloom seasons: late spring to fall

Flower size: 3-4 inches across

Bloom colors: yellow or white

10. Pink Swamp Hibiscus (Hibiscus grandiflorus)

Pink swamp hibiscus grows up to 15 feet tall and 4 feet wide, so give it plenty of space in the garden!

©Steve Bower/Shutterstock.com

The pink swamp hibiscus (or swamp rose-mallow) is a tall, spindly perennial with an abundance of 7-10 inch white or pink blooms. This incredible perennial hibiscus is the perfect finale for our list because of its showy funnel-shaped flowers with deeply pleated petals. Additionally, the leaves are downy and heart-shaped for a beautiful plant from top to bottom.

Pink swamp hibiscus grows up to 15 feet tall and 4 feet wide, so give it plenty of space in the garden! And don’t be alarmed when this plant’s blooms close up when the sun goes down. However, they will open again in the morning.

The pink swamp hibiscus is a great choice for gardeners looking to attract pollinators like hummingbirds and butterflies. Its woody stems have vase-like hollows that make them ideal for cut flower arrangements.

Plant type: herbaceous perennial

Hardiness zones: 8-11

Plant size at maturity: 6-15 feet tall, 2-4 foot spread

Bloom seasons: late spring through summer

Flower size: 7-10 inches across

Bloom colors: white or pink

It might be hard to choose just one perennial hibiscus for your garden!

As you can see from our list, there are many varieties of hibiscus for home gardens. They’re all so gorgeous; it might be hard to choose just a few! Consider researching each type thoroughly before making your choice. And pay attention to each variety’s hardiness zones and growth habits for the best results. With a little bit of love and care, your hibiscus will reward you with an abundance of beautiful blooms!

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The Featured Image

Top,View,Shot,Of,Beautiful,Pink,Coloured,Confederate,Rose,(dixie
Similar to the yellow hibiscus of Hawaii, the confederate rose reaches up to 15 feet tall like a small tree.
© suprabhat/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I've been a professional writer for over 12 years, specializing in nature themes, including plants and animals. My areas of interest include pets, sea animals, and flowers. Plus, I can't get enough of red pandas and hummingbirds! I also enjoy gardening, nutrition studies, and snuggling with my cats in my spare time.

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Sources
  1. U.S. FOREST SERVICE, United States Department of Agriculture, Available here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/rosemallowbee.shtml
  2. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Available here: https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/hawnprop/plants/hib-brac.htm
  3. Missouri Botanical Garden, Available here: https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c522#:~:text=Showy%2C%20hollyhock%2Dlike%2C%205,summer%20to%20fall%20bloom%20period