For color and beauty in the garden, Hibiscus cannot be beat. Mine are the giant strain of rose mallow, tall-growing, well-branched plants that produce many enormous five-petaled flowers ranging from red to rose, shell-pink to white with crimson eye.
In Laurel, Mississippi, the hibiscus blooms from midsummer to frost without rest. Though large, the blossoms are delicate in form, soft in color, and so combine well with other flowers. Leaves are also beautiful-long, narrow and notched.
Hibiscus likes rich, well-drained soil and starts new growth each spring. To make way for the new shoots, the plants should be cut to the ground each fall. New plants may be propagated from seed soaked in warm water before they’re planted in late spring when days are warm. Ground must be kept moist until growth appears. Blossoms come the second year. Plants also may be started from root divisions taken from older plants or from cuttings placed under a fruit jar or in a shaded bed.
Hibiscus is a fine background plant as well as one that can hold the spotlight when in bloom. Flowers remain open longer if shaded and, on cloudy days, stay open all day long. When cool days come, hibiscus is at its best for then its colorful, crisp flowers are especially lovely.
Its easy habit of growth and unaffected air make the blue daisy, Felicia amelloides of South Africa, a welcome addition to any cottage garden. Its flowers, 1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter, are borne singly on thin, wiry stems which rise about 8 to 10 inches above evergreen foliage. Its color is a true sky blue. Its center, yellow.
Felicia amelloides seems immune to pests and does well for me in either sun or partial shade. Bloom is heaviest from April through June but, if the top is sheared severely, it will continue to bloom for months here in California.
Propagation is by seed or cuttings. And, since the lower branches occasionally send down roots where they touch the ground, the plant also may be increased by layering under moist soil. In harsher climes, where it is tender, the blue daisy may be started under glass and grown in pots as Marguerites (Chrysanthemum frutescens) are grown.
I have the blue daisy planted in front of rose-pink geraniums on the west side of the house and in front of orange and yellow daylilies on the east. In both situations it thrives without any particular care except watering.
Lemon-yellow and white Marguerites, by the way, combine well with this smaller blue flower sometimes called Blue Marguerite. I arrange them loosely in a Waterford glass pitcher and add a few freesias or sweet alyssum for fragrance. I have also used felicia in a yellow pottery sugar bowl with early English primroses and, later in the season, with the old-fashioned pinks (Dianthus).