Why Didn’t My Confederate Rose Bloom?

October 16, 2012 | By | Comments (3)
Confederate rose

Confederate rose. Photo by Steve Bender.

Question from Desperate Reader: I live in Texas and have had a Confederate rose for 5 years. The first three years, it bloomed beautifully. The last two years, we’ve had record heat and drought and it hasn’t bloomed at all. Should I blame the weather?

Grumpy’s Totally Correct Answer: Blaming the weather always makes us feel good and in this instance is absolutely justified. So don’t feel bad. It wasn’t your fault.

Confederate rose isn’t a rose at all. As I wrote in an earlier post, it’s actually a species of hibiscus (Hibiscus mutabilis) native to China. Where Grumpy lives in north-central Alabama, it grows into a large shrub about 6 to 8 feet tall that dies to the ground in winter and comes back. Farther south, it becomes a small tree. Showy flowers appear atop the foliage in fall. They may be solid white or pink, but the most prized form, ‘Plena,’ (shown above) sports double blooms that open white, change to pink the next day, and then darken to red. You can order one from Woodlanders.

Why didn’t yours bloom? Like you said, extreme heat and drought. Confederate rose blooms on new growth. If it’s too hot and dry, there isn’t much new growth to bloom on. Another common cause (though not in this case) is a hard frost in fall that kills the flower buds.

Grumpy’s on Vacay!


Isle of Santorini. Photo by HBarrison.

That’s right! For the next couple of weeks, Grumpy will be cruising to exotic locales all over the known world as he seeks to recharge his gardening batteries. He will not be able to check email during this time, so either wait until October 29 to post a gardening question or wait patiently for an answer.

Don’t think Grumpy has abandoned you. In the time I’m away, I will be answering a gardening question sent in by a faithful reader right here every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

Now could I please have another glass of red?


Next Post: When to Prune Honeysuckle


  1. Linda

    Dear Mr. Grumpy,
    Can you tell me when to prune back a single petal, double blooming gardenia. I thought I had posted this comment to you just a few minutes ago, so if you get two of these comments, its not me, its the computer 🙂
    As I stated in my last comment, they are rather ugly and shaggy looking but I so love these plants….They light up my entire porch with their smell in spring and in summer. I am afraid to prune, but I really need too. Looking forward to “talking” to you! Linda

    October 28, 2012 at 3:00 pm
  2. Nancy B

    Near our home in rural VA there is an older, now empty house that once was home to a loving gardener. There is a Confederate rose at the corner of the driveway that has been neglected since the homeowner moved out. For the past two years it has borne only one or two blossoms. Does it need to be thinned or pruned? How might I go about propagating from this mature specimen (with permission, of course)?

    October 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm
  3. JoAnne T. Baldwin

    Bon voyage!!

    October 16, 2012 at 8:11 am

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