Shrub is beautiful but big

Garden Gnome

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There’s a giant lurking in one of my flower beds that’s threatening to take over one day. I worry about it through the growing season, debating whether to chop it down to size. But then it blooms, and I think the beautyberry bush next to it is just going to have to man up.

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This Confederate Rose is only 2 or 3 years old but already stands about 12 feet tall. It's a perfect late-fall-blooming shrub if you have the room. The plant is easy to propagate by taking cuttings.  SANDY HODSON/STAFF
SANDY HODSON/STAFF
This Confederate Rose is only 2 or 3 years old but already stands about 12 feet tall. It's a perfect late-fall-blooming shrub if you have the room. The plant is easy to propagate by taking cuttings.

Thanks to my master gardener buddy Robert Rogers, the Confederate Rose has been growing and blooming for two seasons now. If you don’t know what this is, look now for the huge, fluffy, white and pink blooms on plants growing 6 to 15 feet tall.

It’s not a rose but a hibiscus, which makes sense when you see the double variety of the plant. It’s real name is Hibiscus mutabilis. The word mutabilis means changeable, which is very appropriate because the flowers will start off white and turn pink.

The Confederate Rose has been growing in Southern gardens for hundreds of years, and it’s a perfect pass-a-long plant. It is easy to propagate by taking cuttings.

Once it stops blooming, you can take cuttings of 10-15 inches and just put them in water and keep them inside in a sunny location. They will root over the winter and be ready for planting – just in time for the Pendleton King Park Plant Swap – in the spring.

Be prepared for what you’re getting into if you inherit one of these heirlooms. It’s tall, and every year there will be more stems to create a multiple-stem shrub that can spread nearly as wide as it is tall.

Give it room in a sunny or light shady spot, and after that it will take care of itself. With age, it becomes drought-tolerant and few insects or diseases trouble it. It will die down in the winter. It might scare you in the spring because it takes a while to appear, but it will.

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