FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Disco Bell Red’ is a perennial with large leaves and many sturdy vertical stems. In summer, plants are crowned by striking saucer shaped flowers on compact 2 to 2 ½ foot plants. The solitary blooms are located in the upper leaf axils and are white with a pink blush, and red magenta center. Adaptable to residential landscapes, and thrives in sunny medium to wet sites where it is sought after by many pollinators.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: The parent species Hibiscus moscheutos occurs from Ontario to Massachusetts and Florida and west to Wisconsin and Texas. The greatest distribution is in Louisiana with plants occurring in almost every parish.
Plants are indigenous to ditches, edges of brackish or freshwater swamps, marshes, wet prairies and low soggy margins of rivers or ponds. Large impressive stands sometimes occur.
Hardy from USDA Zones 4-9
Disco Bell Pink is an F1 seed grown hybrid with a much shorter compact stature than the species.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Disco Bell Red’ is a robust shrubby wildflower with multiple upright stems.
The stems are glabrous or pubescent and are clothed in bold ovate toothed leaves. Blades are usually unlobed but can have 2 lateral lobes. The leaf surface is green and fairly smooth with lighter colored pubescent undersides.
From summer until early autumn spectacular funnel-form or saucer shaped flowers are borne in the upper leaf axils. Blooms are 4-12” across with 5 lustrous overlapping petals. Flowers are white with a pink blush, and red magenta center.
Each bloom lasts only a day but they are produced repeatedly for about a month and are followed by 1-2” capsules.
Plants are 2 – 2.5’ tall with a spread of 1.5-2’.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Disco Bell Red’ prefers sunny exposures with rich wet to moist soils, but is adaptable to the landscape.
Plants are fairly drought tolerant after establishment. They also tolerate clay, muck and shallow standing water.
Stems are sturdy and rarely need staking.
They are generally cut to the ground in late winter allowing their angular capsules to provide winter interest. Young plants are occasionally nibbled by deer. This cotton relative is also attacked by Japanese beetles and by sawfly larva which skeletonize the leaves. If pests are a problem, seek organic controls that will not harm beneficial pollinators.
LANDSCAPE USES: Due to the Showy Blooms, Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Disco Bell Red’ is a dramatic Accent, Grouping or Mass for a Wildlife Garden or Water Garden. Plants are also used in Containers, as Butterfly Nectar Plants and in Cottage Gardens, Rain Gardens, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings, Perennial Borders, Roadsides and Wetlands.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Disco Bell Red’ with Asclepias incarnata, Eupatorium fistulosum, Helianthus angustifolius, Lobelia cardinalis and Panicum virgatum.
Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Disco Bell Pink’ is a worthy substitute with similar flowers, habit and cultural needs. Hibiscus moscheutos may also be used, but it is a much taller plant.
TRIVIA: The exotic appearing supersized flowers are pollinated by native long tongued bees including the specialist Rose Mallow Bee. Blooms provide nectar to ruby throated hummingbirds and a variety of insects. Plants host caterpillars of gray hairstreak, painted lady butterflies, skippers and several moths including the Io Moth and Delightful Bird-Dropping Moth