Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Hibiscus Syriacus ‘blue Bird’

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch
Hibiscus syriacus 'Blue Bird' flower (10/07/2011, London)

Hibiscus syriacus 'Blue Bird' flower (10/07/2011, London)

Position: Full sun

Soil: Moist, well drained soil

Flowering period: Summer to autumn

Eventual Height: 2.5m

Eventual Spread: 2.5m

Hardiness: USDA Zone 5a-8b

Family: Malvaceae

Hibiscus syriacus ‘blue bird’ is a deciduous shrub with an upright habit. Its foliage is lobed, deep green. its large, red-centred, lilac-blue, monoecious, flowers are borne singly on the axils of the long stalked leaves and will close up during heavy rain. These are followed by large, oval seed capsules.

H. syriacus ‘blue bird’ is often listed under its French name H. syriacus ‘Oiseau Bleu’. It was first produced in France during the 1950’s. The species epithet is due to the original belief that it was native to Syria but its actual origins are from central Asia with the plant being introduced to Europe so long ago this was lost for many years. H. syriacus is the national flower of South Korea, the flowers symbolic significance being derived from mugung, closely related to the flowers Korean name, which means eternity. Along with its provenance, knowledge of its hardiness was also lost as there are record dating back to the 16th century stating it should be protected with great care against frosts, even though it is one of the few Hibiscus species that is fully hardy.

Hibiscus was an ancient Greek name for a mallow-like plant, with syriacus being a Latinised word referring to its supposed origins in Syria.

Hibiscus syriacus 'Blue Bird' (10/07/2011, London)

Hibiscus syriacus 'Blue Bird' (10/07/2011, London)

This plant is useful to the landscape architect as a fully hardy Hibiscus with a strong tolerance of drought and a striking late inflorescence.

The Royal Horticultural Society have given the cultivars it their prestigious Award of Garden Merit.

This plant will tolerate almost any soil conditions; it will be happy in neutral, alkaline or acid pH levels, in loam, chalk, clay or sand based soils facing a sheltered, southern or western facing aspect.

Ecologically this will attract pollinating insects such as butterflies and honey bees.

Maintenance: Requires little to no maintenance. Dead or damaged material may be removed in late winter to early spring. The seed pods may be removed after autumn leaf-fall to prevent self seeding.

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