Gateway Trials – Best of 2011 Hibiscus Mahogony Splendor

Hibiscus ‘Mahogony Splendor’






Dark purple red foliage on a large fine textured plant, Hibiscus ‘Mahogony Splendor’ matures to about 5 feet tall in our 175 day growing season.  The palmately lobed and veined  leaves provide the fine texture, color and overall look of a Japanese maple.  This plant definitely likes warm weather and after a bit of a slow start in spring, took off to become a focal point in large beds and containers.  In full sun the plants grow more compact and formed a tight hedge when planted close.  In shadier sites they grow more upright to spreading. They are a tough plant that can take a wide variety of conditions from hot sun and drought to some shade and even wet soil.  Overall they grow best in full sun with consistent moisture. Which means the heavy clay soils of Wisconsin don’t bother them a bit.  Japanese beetles didn’t attack them like they do most other hibiscus.

They look great with the lime green of Coleus ‘Wasabi, ’another of our trial favorites this year. We also had them partnered with ‘Envy’ zinnia and pink plumed celosia.  We also grew quite a few plants in pots as the ‘thriller’ where they performed well in a variety of conditions from shade with impatiens to sun with lantana and Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ . The dramatic color, height and easy care make them really useful for large containers. We will bring pots into greenhouse this winter and use them as a cut flowers/foliage accents.  Mahogony Splendor is not known for its flower.  Plants in our greenhouse are beginning to bud up though so it will be interesting to see what they look like.  This plant might also be a good houseplant in a sunny location.  Customers often want to overwinter summer tropicals inside and this is one that would work.

Mahogony Splendor is available from Ball Horticulture as seed.   It’s best to sow seed fairly early in the greenhouse.  The total crop time from seed to gallon is about 12-13 weeks.  Best to plant this outdoors in spring as a decent size #1 or larger as the  cool spring weather typical to Wisconsin means this plant won’t get going outside until things warm up. Due to the large size and dramatic color of the plant it can be marketed as  a premium 6″ or #1 container.  








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