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April 2008
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Growing confederate roses

Sometimes referred to as the cotton rose, the Confederate rose is a unique Chinese shrub that is found throughout the southeastern United States. The unique popular name for the Confederate rose is based on the fact that the general area where this beautiful shrub is grown roughly corresponds to the section of the USA that once seceded from the Union and was known as the Confederate States of America.
The confederate rose is a large shrub or small multistemmed tree that grows to 15 ft (4.6 m) high with about a 10 ft (3 m) spread. Dropping its leaves in winter the shrub’s slender stems seem to disappear among neighboring plants until midsummer, when it leafs out into a big bushy mass. Hibiscus mutabilis is downright conspicuous when in full bloom starting in late summer and on into fall. The flowers open pure white and change color over a three-day period until they are deep pink and then as they die assume a dark “blue-pink” hue.
Bloom season usually lasts from summer through fall. Propagation by cuttings root easiest in early spring, but cuttings can be taken at almost any time. When it does not freeze, the Confederate rose can reach heights of 12 to 15 feet with a woody trunk; however, a multi-trunk bush 6 to 8 feet tall is more typical. It is killed back to the ground with the first hard freeze, only to re-grow the following spring, sending up even more stems than the previous season.
The plant tends to grow best in sections of the landscape that receive direct sunlight or no more than partial shade. The soil should be rich in nutrients and minerals. This shrub thrives on regular watering but this is optional as it is very drought tolerant. This shrub truly takes care of itself and is adaptable to most locations and soil conditions. The tree is at its best when it has been allowed to grow with minimal pruning into a natural, oval shape.

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