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Hibiscus moscheutos Luna Red
Hibiscus moscheutos | Swamp Rosemallow, Musk mallow, 芙蓉葵 (Fu Rong Kui) Hibiscus moscheutos Luna Red

Hibiscus moscheutos is a cold-hardy perennial found in wetlands and along the riverine systems of the southeastern United States. Its range extends from Texas to the Atlantic states, northward into southern Ontario. In Canada, it is listed as a species of special concern by the Species at Risk Act.

There are multiple sub-species of Hibiscus moscheutos, but taxonomic consensus is lacking in regard to nomenclature. Adding to the confusion is the fact that in the US, Hibiscus moscheutos crosses easily with both Hibiscus laevis and Hibiscus dasycalyx, posing a threat to these species by hybridization and encroachment into their respective ranges.

Luna Red is a seed propagated cultivar, appealing because of its compact, well-branched, shrubby habit. It can grow to almost 1m tall and half as wide with flowers up to 15cm across. The Luna series currently contains four colors: ‘Luna Red’ (deep-burgundy red), ‘Luna Blush’ (white with blush-pink rim and dark-red eye), ‘Luna Pink Swirl’ (pink picotee pattern with a dark eye) and ‘Luna White’ (white with large, red eye). This series is ideal for container plantings as well as landscape uses. Once established, Hibiscus moscheutos can tolerate a variety of environmental conditions.

When grown from seed, it can be beneficial to pinch Hibiscus moscheutos (and the other American Hibiscus as well) prior to or shortly after planting in containers. This is generally a tip pinch, removing only the growing point of the plant, and should leave 4-6 leaves on each branch. Pinching increases lateral branching and the total number of flowers produced on each plant.