Lilies, Hibiscus and Gardenias

Featured Article, Gardening, Home & Family, Outdoors
on January 19, 2012

Lilies, hibiscus and gardenias are three perennials most gardeners can grow. Each plant features fragrant blooms and vibrant colors. Perennials, states the Department of Horticulture Sciences at Texas A & M University, are “plants that persist for many growing seasons. Generally the top portion of the plant dies back each winter and regrows the following spring from the same root system.”

Lily basics. The lily or lilium plant has distinct characteristics. According to the University of Minnesota Extension Office, true lilies will have a stiff stem, narrow leaves and large beautiful flowers and “may be trumpet-shaped, bowl-shaped or bell-shaped with reflexed petals.” Lilies are available in an array of colors and have a sweet fragrance.

Growing lilies. Lilies can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9. Plant your lilies in an area that receives at least five to six hours of sunshine daily. Lily bulbs should be planted about 6 inches deep so they stay cool during the hottest temperatures of the day. Lily plants that are shaded for too long will begin to lean toward the sunlight, creating an arcing stem. Your lilies should also have good drainage. Asiatic and Oriental lilies are hardy and easy to grow. The Asiatic lily, the Giraffe, is a brilliant red-orange color while the Dimension is a deep burgundy. The popular Stargazer is an Oriental lily with a crimson flower and white edges.

Hibiscus basics. Several varieties of hibiscus exist; however, in general, the hibiscus moscheutos is grown as a perennial favorite. It is native to the United States and also known as the crimson-eyed rosemallow or the marshmallow hibiscus. According to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, this fragrant addition to your garden tends to have large, heart-shaped leaves and showy five-petaled flowers.

Growing hibiscus. Hibiscus typically will grow in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. It likes sun but can tolerate partial shade. The hibiscus prefers moist soil and will bloom July through August. In addition to being fragrant and beautiful, hibiscus will attract hummingbirds. Varieties include the Disco Belle Pink, Cranberry Punch and Luna White.

Gardenia basics. Gardenia plants have glossy, dark green leaves and showy flowers. They have a strong fragrance and look beautiful in containers as an accent plant. There are different varieties, but the flower color will only range from white to cream to ivory. For example, the First Love gardenia is creamy white with double blooms, but the Mystery gardenia blooms are considered pure white.

Growing gardenias. Gardenias do best in warmer climates. Depending on the variety, gardenias will grow in USDA hardiness zones 6 to 11. Plant your gardenias in an area with full sun and moist, well-drained soil. The National Gardening Association suggests gardeners avoid planting their gardenias too close to a concrete walk or foundation because the soil’s pH may be too high.

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