Fiesta hibiscus is a vacation packaged as a plant

NORMAN WINTERThis mixed container with Fiesta hibiscus and blue lobelia is an explosion of color.

An old hibiscus has the Garden Guy under a magical spell this year for a couple of reasons. Now when I say old, I’m not talking about a specific plant but a variety, Fiesta, that made its debut 53 years ago.

It is incredible that major suppliers are still producing Fiesta after all of the countless new varieties that have made their debut in the last half-century. When I look at it, I am flooded with happiness. It is like my trip to Bora Bora or Tahiti. This is a vacation packaged as a plant.

Fiesta seems to always be showing multiple colors. Consider the descriptor on the Monrovia website, “A sensational tropical shrub with large, exotic color-changing blooms. The showy flowers have bright orange petals with crinkled edges and quickly change after opening, developing softer golden margins and a white center, with a blush red eye. “

We have Ross Gast to thank for this hibiscus; registering it back in 1966. He was one of the founders of the American Hibiscus Society. He was an explorer and a scientist, a reporter and a writer, and so much more.

The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis we affectionately call the Chinese hibiscus or the Hawaiian hibiscus, and is the national flower of Malaysia, has never been found in the wild. Gast made three great journeys trying to piece the genetics together like a hibiscus puzzle.

Though many tout Gast’s other hibiscus selections, the consumer has voted for Fiesta via their heart and pocketbook. The ringing of the cash registers tells you Fiesta is one of the most loved hibiscuses of all-time and still being abundantly produced many years after its plant patent expiration.

Now, 53 years later, my son is using them in riveting mixed container designs. They are like explosions of color and celebration. Fiesta hibiscus combined with Techno Heat Blue lobelia is an unsurpassed complementary color partnership.

In a garden bed, there is Fiesta hibiscus with Hawaiian Ti plants, Borneo Giant elephant ear, and Golden Delicious Pineapple sage for a feast of the senses. Sure, we can grow the topical hibiscus as a specimen, but the combination possibilities are almost unlimited.

If your local garden center doesn’t have Fiesta, look for it online and you’ll soon be growing your own.

Tribune Wire

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