Hibiscus is a flowering plant that you see growing in tropical, warm climates for the most part. The flowers are trumpet-shaped and very big, and you can choose from roughly 200 species that all fall under the mallow family. The flower’s pistils protrude very dramatically from the flower’s horn to make them very showy flowers, and there are both common and rare kinds of hibiscus to consider when you shop.
The leaves will part alternatively, and the veins fan out from the leaf’s stem. You can choose from several colors ranging from white to deep purple and multi-colored. The flower will last for a single day or slightly longer if you refrigerate it.
It’s common to use rare kinds of hibiscus for decorative purposes, and it adds drama to a garden. In India, this plant is commonly given to Lord Ganesh and the goddess Kali as an offering. It’s also popular in hair care remedies. There are several health benefits attached to this plant, and the Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt drank hibiscus tea and it’s still common at weddings today. It has a citrusy, tangy flavor, and you find it in candies and salads too.
Hibiscus by Matthew Mclalin / CC BY 2.0
Among the rare kinds of hibiscus, there are tropical and hardy options, annuals, native plants, and perennials. There are also closely related plants like common mallow, hollyhock, and okra. The biggest hibiscus categories include:
- Annual Hibiscus – Despite what the name would lead you to believe, this isn’t a true annual. However, you can grow this tropical, rare type of hibiscus as an annual if you live in cooler climates. They’re commonly grown in containers, and this category includes Red Leaf and Chinese hibiscus. One comes in a huge range of colors while one is vibrant red.
- Hardy Hibiscus – This perennial, cold-tolerant shrub can be just as stunning as the tropical rare kinds of hibiscus. You’ll get large showy blooms in several colors, and a few popular plants in this category include the Rose of Sharon with purple, white, or pink flowers.
- Native Hibiscus – Also called Rose Mallows, this rare kind of hibiscus encompasses 35 species that are native to the southeastern portion of the United States. The Scarlet Rose Mallow from Florida is very popular, and it can get between four and eight feet tall. You may hear this category referred to as Marsh Hibiscus, and even though they typically grow in wetlands, they can tolerate slightly drier areas.
- Perennial Hibiscus – This is technically a shrub, and they can range anywhere from dwarf varieties to big tree-like bushes. This rare kind of hibiscus can be tropical or hardy, and it includes Scarlet Swamp Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, Confederate Roses, and Rose Mallow.
- Tropical Hibiscus – This hibiscus type has a small amount of overlap with the native species that you find growing in southern Louisiana and Florida. The most common type you can find is Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis. Different cultivars offer you the choice of flower size and color. They can offer rich and bright colors with large and showy blooms.
31 Rare Kinds of Hibiscus
Some hibiscus plants are very popular in specific parts of the world, and this can make them more difficult to find in your specific planting zone. However, they all offer colorful shows during the spring and summer, and you can mix and match to get a touch of the tropics in your garden this season.
This rare kind of hibiscus is also called Kaasturi, Musk Mallow, and Musk Seed in India. It’s an annual plant that will reach between two and six feet high at full maturity. It’s native to India, and it lets out a very musky-smelling perfume when the flowers open. The seeds get added to coffee and the shoots and leaves get eaten as vegetables. The flower is also very popular in Homeopathy to treat urethritis and gonorrheal cystitis.
Abelmoschus moschatus by Len Worthington / CC BY-SA 2.0
Aphrodite is a rare kind of hibiscus that is treasured for the dark pink, large, single flower with a bright yellow center. It’ll start to bloom from mid to late summer when you put it in a partially shaded to sunny location. The deep fuschia flower spans six to eight inches across, and it stands out against the velvety and dark green foliage. The flower will bloom each year in August in virtually any type of soil. It will get between two and three feet tall, and it’s a hybrid cross between Vin Extraordinaire and Space Oddity.
Aphrodite Hibiscus by John Wisniewski / CC BY-ND 2.0
3. Beach Beauty
This is a larger rare kind of hibiscus that has a flower that gets eight inches across and offers rings of white, golden yellow, and candy pink. The flower comes with a very bright red eye with hints of orange around the edges. It’s a hybrid cross of Acapulco Gold and Stolen Kiss that features the vivid but soft colors of both parent plants to create a stunning look. This is a medium-sized bush that gets up to 18 feet high.
Sida Fallax by David Eickhoff / CC BY 2.0
4. Berry Awesome
This rare kind of hibiscus is a 2019 Proven Winner Perennial of the Year, and it’s trademarked and owned by Walters Gardens, and they’re based out of Zeeland, Michigan. It offers seven or eight-inch blooms that are slightly ruffled in hot pink with a crimson eye. They’re the perfect way to make a statement in your flower border next to your ornamental grass.
The darker green foliage on this rare kind of hibiscus is the perfect backdrop to make the big blooms stand out that will bloom from July until the end of September. It’s a fast-growing variety that forms compact, dense shrubs and gets up to four feet tall and wide at full maturity. You can plant it in containers and set it on your patio. It’s also one of the hardiest varieties available, and it requires no extra attention during the winter months to encourage it to come back in the spring to showcase the pretty flowers.
DK7_4340-1 by Mark Levisay / CC BY 2.0
5. Blue Bird
Better known by the botanical name of Hibiscus Syriacus, this rare kind of hibiscus stands out with the bluish-purple coloring. This plant will flower heavily while staying a more compact height of three to four feet. It offers slightly ruffled petals with darker green foliage, and it works very well in cottage or traditional gardens. It’s related to the Rose of Sharon, and it has a very wide hardiness range of zones five to nine.
In colder areas, this plant will lose the leaves in the winter months. It doesn’t need a lot of maintenance, and gardners usually plant several of these perennials to create a hedge. A single specimen planted in a container can add a pretty blue splash of color to the area. Since blue is a rare kind of hibiscus, you should pick up this one if you see it. It can survive in poor soil and it’s drought-tolerant, too.
Hibiscus syriacus ‘Blue bird’ by Lotus Johnson / CC BY-NC 2.0
6. Blue River II
You can easily grow this rare kind of hibiscus in medium to average soil but it does best in organically rich soil in a location that gets full sun. The plant will get between 12 and 15 feet tall, and it’ll offer five-petaled hollyhock blooms. This flower has a very short life and doesn’t live for more than a single day. It’ll bloom each year in succession from midsummer to very early fall. The light green foliage contrasts nicely with the white flowers.
160725 440 Chi Bot Gdn Evening Island – Hibiscus ‘Blue River II’ by cultivar413 / CC BY 2.0
This rare kind of hibiscus is part of the Head Over Heels series from the University of Georgia, and it’s a patented cultivar that used to go by RutHib1. The name was derived from the person who created it, John Ruter. You’ll get very delicate pink flowers with a red, deep eye that virtually seeps color. The foliage is a wine-red, and the compact variety grows between two and three feet with a three to four foot spread at full maturity.
Perfect planted in borders or for containers with different colored flowers, these blooms will give you visual interest from early summer into fall. The flowers also are slightly ruffled for texture. During the winter months, the dark green foliage will die back and return late in the spring months.
Blushing Coral Hibiscus by Naomi King / CC BY-NC 2.0
This yellow and bright rare kind of hibiscus is Hawaii’s state flower, and this is why it’s common to call it the Hawiian hibiscus. This is a tropical plant that can get up to 30 feet high, but it’s more common to get shorter shrubs or trees that reach 15 feet. They flower from early spring until midsummer, and it’s one of the rare kinds of hibiscus that will give you an earlier bloom time. There are seven species that are native to Hawaii, and they thrive in the humid, warm environment.
Hibiscus Ma‘o hau hele by Rosa Say / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Also called Kenaf, this rare kind of hibiscus falls into the Malvaceae family. This flower is very well known thanks to the fiber you get from it. The fiber is what companies use to create jute. It has a single, large flower in a deep red color that is roughly three to four inches in diameter. It grows best in well-draining soil in early summer or spring as long as you plant it in a sunny location.
Red Hibiscus by Jun Acullador / CC BY-ND 2.0
Champagne hibiscus plants bloom and offer big eight-inch single flowers that have red hues and a tiny red center. It’s a hybrid rare kind of hibiscus that crosses Rainbow Christie and Muffin Man, and it offers even-colored, smooth flowers.
#41/100 Hawaiian Hibiscus by Carol VanHook / CC BY-SA 2.0
11. China Rose
China Rose is a blackening plant because the flowers get used in the tropics to polish people’s shoes. It’s an Asiatic shrub that gets between 15 and 25 feet high at full maturity, and it’s hardy enough to withstand frost. It offers oval-shaped flowers that are between three and four inches long, and the blooms are usually red but you can find some pink, yellow, or orange varieties. They also come in double or single-petal blooms. The flowers form long columns for the stamens.
Chinese Hibiscus by likeaduck / CC BY-SA 2.0
Also called the Texas Star Hibiscus, this rare kind of hibiscus will get up to seven feet tall. When it blooms, it’ll give you red flowers that are between three and four inches in diameter. It loves being in a full sun location, but it’s vulnerable to damage by extreme cold and frost conditions. To make it grow and flower, adding mulch is necessary. It’s an upright woody plant that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Hibiscus Coccineus by Tatters / CC BY 2.0
This flower offers multi-colored, large blooms that are between seven and nine inches wide. The flower will bloom in orange, yellow, pink, and red. The parent plants are Fireball and Saffron, and they both grow to a medium size and have vivid colors.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis by Jesus Cabrera / CC BY 2.0
14. Flower of an Hour
You may hear this rare kind of hibiscus called Hibiscus trionum. It will top out at a maximum of four feet high and produce yellow or cream-colored flowers. This pretty flower will look very nice in the garden and as a decor piece.
Hibiscus trionum/Flower-of-the-Hour by Stephen Goddard / CC BY-NC 2.0
This Hawaiian native shrub will get between 6 and 10 feet tall, and this is one of the longer living rare kinds of hibiscus plants you can get. It’s very popular for use as a landscaping plant in hedges and containers. It’s very tolerant of wet soils, and it can grow alongside waterways in some areas. It’ll bloom all year-round with showy purple and pink flowers that stand out very nicely against the green foliage with heart-shaped leaves. The flowers give gardens bursts of colors all season long.
starr-021203-0022-Hibiscus_furcellatus-flower-Nahiku-Maui by Forest and Kim Starr / CC BY 2.0
16. Giant Rose Mallow
This rare kind of hibiscus looks a lot like Hibiscus Moscheutos, but it has broader leaves and grows to a much taller height. The flowers are a pretty pink color, but you can also find cultivars with white flowers with dark red centers. It offers very smooth foliage in a coppery purple shade. The flowers get produced in succession during the midsummer months to the first frost in the fall. This plant prefers moist, good garden soil and a bright, sunny location.
Flowers: Giant Red Hibiscus Flower by Ali Eminov / CC BY-NC 2.0
17. Hawaiian Hibiscus
These are the seven known species of rare kinds of hibiscus that are native to Hawaii. You’ll get very large petals that usually have much brighter colors. It will grow very fast once you plant it, and it’ll last for a long time when you compare it to other hibiscus types.
Plants and Flowers of Hawaii by Joel / CC BY-ND 2.0
This is a very unique-looking rare kind of hibiscus flower that is native to Phillip Island right off Australia. In the wild, this plant forms two clumps, and it has an extremely rare wild growth habit. It’s a starfish-shaped flower that offers clustered, pronounced stamens. It’s tropical to the native regions, but it’s also critically endangered. You can add it into your hedge or privacy screen to help distract anyone who goes by, but you have to provide adequate support in the process.
Hibiscus Insularis by Tatters / CC BY 2.0
19. Luna Pink Swirl
This hardy perennial plant gives you big white or pink flowers with deep red centers. The flower will be roughly eight inches across, and the plant tops out at eight feet tall. The plant does very well in fertile, moist soil that drains well. It will give you flowers in the late summer months, but it requires a high amount of care because fungal disease can quickly kill it. The flower petals tend to be light pink on one side and fade to a creamy, light pink on the other side. It’ll attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Luna Pink Swirl Hibiscus by Swallowtail Garden Seeds / CC BY 2.0
20. Luna Red
This is a bushy, compact plant that has gigantic flowers when they bloom. The five petaled blooms contrast nicely with the bright green foliage. The shorter rare kind of hibiscus is a great choice for decorations or gardens, and it grows very well in fertile, well-drained soil with a lot of moisture. It’s an eye-catching, stunning flower that stretches six to eight inches across, and the flower will die back to the ground level during winter and come back in the summer. It does best in big containers and it attracts a host of hummingbirds.
Hibiscus moscheutos flower by 8” across by Ballookey Klugeypop / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
21. Mango Liqueur
This is possibly one of the most striking rare kinds of hibiscus you can buy, and any plant that has the mango liqueur botanical name is bright red, fluffy flowers that have a yellow gradient on the border. This plant is a hybrid, and it’s a cross between the Creme de Cacao and Muffin Man plant with fluffy flowers.
Mango-Colored Hibiscus by PINKE / CC BY-NC 2.0
This is a pretty multi-colored flower. It’s actually a perennial shrub that gets between three to eight feet long at full maturity. The colors can range from deep rose to pure white with a deep maroon center. It falls into the Malvaceae family, and it’s commonly called the Rose Mallow. This showy bloom is roughly 12-inches wide with dark green foliage and yellow stamens. The flower will bloom from summer to the first frost.
Hibiscus moscheutos (swamp rose-mallow) by Doug McGrady / CC BY 2.0
This rare kind of hibiscus is also called the Dixie Rose Mallow or the Confederate Rose. The flowers are double-blooms, and they have green or white foliage. Planting this flower will add a touch of beauty and color to your space. This flower will bloom from the summer months to fall, and the flower is between four and six inches wide. This plant is mainly pink and white but it’ll slowly change to a vibrant red. This flower loves partial to full shade in a well-drained soil.
Hibiscus Mutabilis by dbarronoss / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
24. Rock Hibiscus
Native to the United States and Mexico, this rare kind of hibiscus is a shrub that loves to cling to rocky formations. It can survive up to 2,000 feet elevations without a problem, and it has very sparse foliage with gray leaves in a triangular shape. The color ranges form pink and dark purple to white, and it has five petals and stretches up to three inches in diameter.
Hibiscus fragilis 1 by Scott Zona / CC BY-NC 2.0
Better known as Chinese Hibiscus, this is arguably the most popular hibiscus type in the world, and it’s the tropical variety that you find featured in Hawaii’s photos. It offers vibrantly-colored, bright red flowers. It was originally from Asia, and it comes with flowers that will last for 24 hours before dying off.
Even though the flowers are short lived, this plant produces blooms over a longer growing season. Many butterflies and birds are attracted to this plant for the delicate but large and colorful flowers. In tropical regions, you can find these plants used to shine shoes.
Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis by gaeti / CC BY-SA 2.0
Better known as Indian Roselle, this rare kind of hibiscus shows solitary yellow flowers. It’s a stalk-less plant that can be either a perennial or annual shrub that gets between seven and eight feet high. The leaves have three or five lobes and are between three and six inches long. The flowers are pale yellow to white and span four inches in diameter.
Hibiscus by Jun Acullador / CC BY-ND 2.0
27. Rose of Sharon
Rose of Sharon is known by the botanical name of Hibiscus Syriacus. It’s a very hardy plant that is easy to grow as a shrub. It’ll bloom from the late summer months until the first frost, and you’ll find it abundantly grown and sold in South Korea. It blooms in shades of violet, purple, and white. The shrub can get between 5 and 15 feet high and offer sharply toothed leaves in an oval shape. The flower has three to five inch long petals with very dark green foliage. How big your blooms get will depend on whether or not you prune this plant correctly.
Rose of Sharon by Pictoscrib – / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
As one of the most famous Roselle Botanical Hibiscus cultivars around, especially for culinary uses, you may hear this plant’s name shortened to Roselle. It produces pretty white flowers with blood-red buds, and it’s a very common sight in herb gardens around the world. You find it used a lot in a drink called Jamaica, and it has medicinal properties like helping regulate your blood pressure and helping with constipation. In Central America, you drink it in tea form with sugar and lime.
A dormir! By N. Ferreiro / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
29. Secret Heart
This rare kind of hibiscus is a two-toned pink flower with a bright red center. It’s a bigger flower that grows very well when you plant it in alkaline soil. The flower will start out pink and red in cooler weather and bloom blue when the weather warms up. It has a blue-tone on the body with a warmer pink along the edges. The foliage on this plant comes from the Creme de Cacao mother plant and the blue color with the red center comes from the Rocket’s Red Glare father plant.
Heart by Madalena Pestana / CC BY 2.0
This plant falls into the Mallow family and you may hear it referred to as Coast Hibiscus. This shrub will get between three and six centimeters, and the young branches, flowers, and buds get covered in a very short shaft hair. The flowers feature a bright yellow coloring with bright red centers, and they grow on flexible, long stems. The foliage is heart-shaped and dark green with gray to white coloring. The flowers are very large and showy too.
starr-051019-4913-Hibiscus_tiliaceus-flower-Honokanaia-Kahoolawe by Forest and Kim Starr / CC BY 2.0
The final rare kind of hibiscus on the list is a very compact shrub that will max out at five feet high and offer blood-red centers with ivory colored petals on the flowers. The dark green leaves allow for excellent contrast, and it fits nicely into formal gardens. You can find it growing throughout the United States as a common garden plant, and some people consider it a weed. It has leaves with very distinct lobes that give it an Old World feel, and a lot of people put it in as an accent plant in garden borders to help attract caterpillars and bumblebees.
TWINS by serenithyme / CC BY-NC 2.0
These 31 rare kinds of hibiscus plants can add a lot of color and a tropical feel to your garden, deck, or patio. You can easily mix and match the different varieties to create a unique look that is fabulous all growing season long.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.