Hibiscus Mutabilis – A Symbol of South

Hibiscus mutabilis

This type of plant is the ancestor of the native hibiscuses that grow in Southern and Gulf States hence the second name Confederate rose as this plant is very popular among the local gardeners with its huge flowers and simple care. It belongs to the hardy perennials and feels good in mild climates surviving mild winters well.

Another representative of the breed is Rubrum hibiscus mutabilis or single confederate rose. It has five distinctive petals common for all hibiscuses but does not have the distinctive skirt.


This plant can practically take care of itself as it is a natural garden variety that has good adaptive qualities and strong roots. Hibiscus mutabilis has the largest flowers among all the perennials, blooming starts in midsummer and goes on till late winter. The flowers are double and the plant itself behaves like a perennial in warmer climates and more like a shrub in cooler areas.

The basic care rules for the Cotton rose (another common name) are pretty simple:

  • Cut it off before the growing season leaving a few inches above the ground. The plant revives in mid spring.
  • As a natural breed cotton rose grows from seeds really well, you can also buy new plants at your local plant nursery.
  • Grow it into a tree with a trunk of up to 15 feet although shrug shape is more common.
  • No need to prune it much as a natural round bush shape fits best.
  • Make sure no other plant covers it from the sunshine or the confederate rose can grow leggy.
  • Take care of the properly drained soil and fertilizer to make sure you get the best of your plant.
  • Yellow faded hibiscus leaves are a sign you do not water it enough. Make sure to moisturize the soil at least twice a week during the dry period.

Practical Use

Hibiscus mutabilis has various medicinal uses both as a natural remedy and as a medication compound as it has unique qualities backed by the modern studies. The blossoms and leaves have been known in Chinese medicine as cooling, antidote to all poisons, analgesic and expectorant. The leaves were used for treating tuberculosis and the flower decoction was believed to be pectoral. It was also used for continuous coughs, dysuria, badly healing scalds and burns. Both leaves and flowers were applied to zits and swellings.

Modern studies show that confederate rose has a compound called ferulic acid that helps cure diabetes and restore the insulin sensitivity. So this old-fashioned perennial might have a second life.