Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Sleepy Hibiscus, Drummond's Hibiscus, Dwarf Turk's Cap
Malvaviscus drummondii

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Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Malvaviscus (mal-vuh-VIS-kus) (Info)
Species: drummondii (drum-AWN-dee-eye) (Info)

Synonym:Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii
Synonym:Hibiscus drummondii
Synonym:Pavonia drummondii

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

38 members have or want this plant for trade.

Category:
Shrubs
Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Height:
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

Spacing:
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Danger:
N/A

Bloom Color:
Red

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall

Foliage:
Evergreen

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 32 photos.
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Profile:

22 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive traveltime On Nov 7, 2013, traveltime wrote:

I was introduced to the Sleepy Hibiscus this past week in the Waimea Valley on Hawaii Island. It is growing wild there and our guide, a native Hawaiian, popped a blossom in his mouth and ate it. He says the blossoms are very good in salads.

Positive Condors On Aug 8, 2013, Condors from Meiners Oaks, CA wrote:

I first came on this plant in Texas where it grows wild in sandy to heavy soils. Here in southern California in Ojai, inland from Ventura about 11 miles, it doesn't start blooming until early July, and ceases about the beginning of October. It will drop it's leaves in the winter. Because it is so dry here it needs water about every two to three days or it will really flag, and the flowers will fade and drop off. It is not a prolific bloomer but hummers use the flowers, and I've seen hermit thrushes eat the fruits in the fall that fall off on the terrace. It will germinate naturally, but sporadically, and the seedlings take two years to recover from a transplant to a pot. At that age they are very slow growers. In this area I've only seen this plant growing at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum where they have a large specimen at the public entrance.

Positive cubkat On Apr 22, 2013, cubkat from Florence, AL wrote:

Have this plant in different places in my yard. It is so attractive when it is blooming. Deer do not bother it. Here in northwest Alabama this plant does not get real tall. Hummingbirds definitely like this plant.

Positive wtliftr On Aug 2, 2012, wtliftr from Wilson's Mills, NC wrote:

Natureguyfrog-
the fruits ARE edible. They are eaten in Mexico. Plant is also called a Mexican Apple.

Positive Sandwichkatexan On Jun 23, 2012, Sandwichkatexan from Copperas Cove, TX wrote:

Purchased two small plants in 4 inch pots at a small nursery in Marble Falls Texas about 3 years ago . Both have now taken over half the circular flower beds they are planted in . I love them and hope they take over both the beds . I have some black and blue salvia planted in the same beds and they are intermingling nicely. the blue flowers of the salvia and the red of this really look beautiful together . The hummingbirds also seem to really enjoy this plant. I went back to that nursery where I purchased my original plants and they had both white and pink . I must say I now really want the white and pink ones !

Positive natureguyfrog On Sep 11, 2011, natureguyfrog from San Diego, CA wrote:

The turk's cap with woven petals much like the woven cloth of a Turk's "cap" is a wonderful plant here in San Diego, CA with few pests other that scale and mealybugs that are proliferated by the Argentine ants. Easily controled by spraying with a Spinosad and fine oil spray combo. Combine each gallon dosage to the same gallon water as recommended by each product. Be sure to do test sprays with different oil products as some may tend to burn leaves expecially in sun or heat. These are organic controls although some oil sprays may be petroleum based. I have had a lot of luck with the petroleum based parafinic (wax) type oils which can be used on food and ornamentals as well. Be sure to spray at dusk when bees are not active. They and any other pollen or nectar seeking insect will not be harmed by any residue on the plants the next day even though any chewing insects or the scales, mealy bugs and ants will meet their end.

It is relatively carefree. Tends to be quite leggy unless pruned and pinched regularly which also inproves bloom if done in a timely fashion. One specimen actually was able to compete well planted in a small space between a Queen palm and a moderate sized bamboo. Appreciates small amounts of regular water. Seems to produce more of the white-turning bright red fruits under stressful conditions (less water and nutrients). Drought sets it back but does not seem to destroy it.

All in all a plant with the airy quality and tropical look of an Abutilon (Flowering maple) that will survive under much more severe conditions and appreciates shade or part shade when on the dry side.

Color-wise it cannot be beat for the bright red flower contrast (and the bright red fruits that appear) to the wide green leaves...even if you try to "will" the seemingly sleepy flowers to open just a little bit more!

Clever pruning can create a very attractive airy plant.

I would like to know if any of this plant is edible; especially the fruit.

Positive BUFFY690 On Aug 17, 2011, BUFFY690 from Prosperity, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

I am propagating and planting more of these lovelies, this plant stays in its own little clump returning year after year with its tough but delicate looking bright green floiage, and its very abundant flowers, which the huming birds stay on all day. Bullet proof, been run over by a tractor, burned, broken down, but never nibbled upon by anything. I must make about 5 more of these and make the neighbors jealous...LOL

Finding the seedpods turns out to be a challenge since the pods go from a white to a similar red like the flowers before they dry and drop the seeds. Cool looking though.

Positive jpaczkowski0 On Feb 11, 2011, jpaczkowski0 from Houston, TX wrote:

I have a few of these turks caps (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii), native here in Texas. They are wonderful plants! I love the little swriled flowers that stand erect at about 1" tall. My plants are sprawlers. We have them planted against a fence in my backyard where it gets part sun/shade from my 2 live oak trees. I have heard that some folks get lucky with a more bushy appearance, but I can't achieve that without lots of trimming. Most shoots grow about 6 feet tall and lean against the fence where the other shoots I keep trimmed up so that don't fall over my other plants planted beside them. They bloom non-stop from spring till the first frost. Then die back. I just cut them back and they come back every spring. In parks and in country areas near Houston, I have seen them grow in the shade of trees, naturally. They are very drought tolerant and don't need any special help (except trimming where you think necessary.) The seeds are supposedly in the fruit that is produced after flowering (I have yet to see them), but I found the best way to propogate is just taking a cutting. I took some cuttings at the end of last summer and potted them and they look great. During our few freezes, I brought them inside and the cuttings are flowering already. I will plant them around one of my live oaks this spring for great green leaf and red flower color!

Positive CostaRica On Jan 29, 2010, CostaRica from Guayabo de Bagaces, Guanacaste
Costa Rica (Zone 10b) wrote:

Grows to a medium sized tree in Costa Rica, especially in the dry forest. Cinnamon and visiting Ruby-throated hummers love this plant, although others enjoy it as well. Ours flower constantly and are mostly in full sun, with never any additional water, even though we get no rain Jan-May.
Have never tried to plant the seeds but presume the birds spread this lovely specimen around...

Positive MarisMaryls On Sep 23, 2008, MarisMaryls from Midland, NC wrote:

Hummingbirds LOVE this plant.
I found it about 6 years ago in a neglected part of an old heritage garden in Concord NC. It was on a piece of property owned at the time by our church, and before the property was sold, I asked our pastor if I could look for plants in the gardens. It was in a shady area, and I dug up a single small plant. I did not see any growth the following year, and thought it had died. By the 3rd year, it bloomed, and this year it was wonderful! I am so glad to know what this is! I will be using it throughout my gardens.

Positive yotedog On Jul 8, 2008, yotedog from Raleigh, NC wrote:

Beautiful plant which provides much needed late summer/autumn bloom. Has made it through a mild winter for me in NC zone 7b (temps did go down in the teens for about a week). Very late to emerge from dormancy, for me. Tony Avent lists it in his Plant Delights Catalog as being fairly hardy to at least zone 7....

Positive obrca On Dec 11, 2007, obrca from Memphis, TN wrote:

I bought this in a Vicksburg MS nursery.No tag so I didn't know what it was, except it looked like the hibiscus family. I was a student at the NYBG botanical painting courses and did this for my final painting. No one there had ever seen it either.It does great in Memphis and so far came back 2 years. in a brick garden bed next to the house. The seeds germinate very easily. Now I can label my painting. Also the hummingbirds love it.

Positive WoodyGA On Nov 19, 2007, WoodyGA from Newnan, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

This plant is listed as a native by the South Georgia Native Plants and Wildflower Symposium (held at UGA Tifton), and I've encountered it in a couple of places near my childhood home. One plant has been in the same place since my childhood, on the edge of a dirt road under an old oak tree. Every fall, when the goldenrods are blooming, we always check to see if it's is blooming again -- I remember one year Mom made a big wildflower bouquet of goldenrod, wild American Beautyberry, and this plant's red flowers, which we apparently call "lipstick bush" in error. It seems that this plant is very hardy in south Georgia, as that plant has been in the same place for over 20 years.

Positive LindaTX8 On Feb 7, 2007, LindaTX8 from NE Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

My first one of these came from a nursery going out of business years ago. I call it the "mother plant". It's huge and comes back better every year. It's offspring are in other parts of the yard. Hummingbirds and butterflies love the nectar! I've seen butterflies insert their proboscis through the sides of the closed blooms...they just "know" how to get the nectar!

Positive coralbean On Feb 3, 2006, coralbean from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

Great for hummingbirds. After we had the huge old live oak pruned and thinned, I had to move the Turk's Cap closer to the base of the tree. In my experience, it just doesn't like strong afternoon sun and the leaves pucker up. I'm naturalizing some along the utility easement at the back of our property as well.

Positive frostweed On Apr 29, 2004, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I think turk's cap is a wonderful plant. It is totally reliable and the red flowers attract humminbirds like crazy. I have one bed planted with desert honeysuckle, turk's cap and autumm sage all red and the birds love to hang around it. We can allways count on finding hummers there.

Neutral clantonnaomi On Dec 16, 2003, clantonnaomi from Iredell, TX wrote:

A friend at a nursery was going to throw away two "scrawny" looking Turk's Cap plants and asked me if I wanted them. I took them and stuck them in the ground and they have spread into plants that are five feet across. I don't think that anyone would have any trouble growing these plants in Zone 8. They are not particular about soil, water, etc. They freeze to the ground every year, and never fail to return in the spring. I would give them a positive rating, but they border on being invasive. However, they are a great Texas native plant.

Positive aking1a On Dec 15, 2003, aking1a from Baton Rouge, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

We also call this plant "Turks Cap" --- and it is extremely easy to grow from cuttings. Just stick them in soil and keep moist for a few days --- it will take care of itself.

Positive NANSUSHA On Dec 15, 2003, NANSUSHA wrote:

In this neck of the woods (St. Augustine Beach, Florida), this is called "Turk's Cap" and is as someone already said, loved by the hummingbirds.

It can grow huge, but is beautiful in the cooler seasons after everything else has stopped blooming.

Positive suncatcheracres On Sep 4, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

Malvaviscus drummondii is another of those wonderful heirloom, passalong plants of the Southeastern US, but this one is actually a native of "the woods and pinelands from Cuba through Florida to Texas and Mexico." ( From Easy Care Native Plants by Patricia A. Taylor)

This is a common plant in alleyways and utility easements in St. Petersburg, Florida, where it has become a naturalized urban plant. It makes a very attractive, if rangy, screen for garbage cans, and sprawls over chain link fences, making a light-green screen for back yards. The scarlet flowers are very attractive, but the coarse-looking bush is better put in the background or in the naturalistic garden.

The Wasowski's, in their excellent book Gardening with Native Plants of the South give this plant a huge thumbs-up as being very effective massed under the shade of oak trees. They say in its native habitat it is found growing with American Beautyberry, Dwarf Palmetto, Wild Ageratum, Passionflower, Yaupon Holly, Carolina Jessamine and Yucca.

This plant suckers and will eventually form a large colony. The Wasowski's advise that if you wish to keep it waist high and compact, cut it back to 4 or 5 inches after frost every year.

I grew up with this plant. It can't be beat for providing color in shade, but it does become large and sprawling, and is deciduous in all but the tropical South. I have seen it growing in the Southern suburbs of Atlanta, protected and with mulch, although that is supposedly out of its range.

Being part-Scottish, I had to laugh at Felder Rushing's comment in his book Passalong Plants that the nickname Scotsman's Purse came about because the flowers never fully open.

Positive jrozier On Sep 3, 2003, jrozier from Charleston, SC wrote:

Malvaviscus drummondii is a very vigorous grower here in Zone 8b, Charleston, South Carolina (U.S.) Hummingbirds love it!

There is an interesting white variety, too.

Positive htop On Aug 23, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, TX
You need to allow lots of room for this plant, whose origin is Southern Mexico and Central America, to spread. It is a tender perennial that grows back in the spring if has frozen to the ground. It performs best with afternoon shade or light shade here in San Antonio (full sun in cooler climates). Growing in my region in a variety of soil types, I would not state that it requires acidic soil. It needs regular watering, but little feeding is needed, although some 10-30-10 is helpful at planting time. Mulch in the summer and check for mealy bugs.

It is called 'Sleepy Hibiscus' because it resembles a hibiscus whose one inch flowers are ready to open (the flowers never open much). Blooming often and all sunmmer through all fall, it is a shrubby plant (heigth about 5 ft and width about the same as its heighth) with rounded, medium to dark green leaves leaves. The flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. I have propagated it by mound layering and cuttings.

Positive Bug_Girl On Aug 23, 2003, Bug_Girl from San Francisco, CA wrote:

I just planted Malvaviscus drummondii and will have to see if it makes it to spring. It appears to be a very vigorous grower, but my specimen was very rootbound.
This has turned out to be a hardy plant over all and did not suffer any cold damage over the winter and put out many flowers, after taking a few months to recover from being rootbound. It can grow in a neglectful situation, but won't look in tip top shape without sun, rich soil, and ample water. When it is happy you will get the maximum number of blooms. If planted in more shade it will not bloom as much.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Anniston, Alabama
Midland City, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Scottsdale, Arizona
Arkadelphia, Arkansas
Roseville, California
San Anselmo, California
San Diego, California
San Francisco, California
Hollywood, Florida
Miami, Florida
Niceville, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Seminole, Florida
Venice, Florida
Clarkston, Georgia
Cordele, Georgia
Tifton, Georgia
Hebron, Kentucky
Baton Rouge, Louisiana (2 reports)
Brusly, Louisiana
Gonzales, Louisiana
Jennings, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Zachary, Louisiana
Zwolle, Louisiana
Maben, Mississippi
Mesilla Park, New Mexico
Rodeo, New Mexico
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Greenville, North Carolina
Kure Beach, North Carolina
Midland, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Roseboro, North Carolina
Snow Hill, North Carolina
Chickasha, Oklahoma
Seminole, Oklahoma
Charleston, South Carolina
Conway, South Carolina
Prosperity, South Carolina
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina (2 reports)
Memphis, Tennessee (2 reports)
Middleton, Tennessee
Westmoreland, Tennessee
Alice, Texas
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas
Belton, Texas
Blanket, Texas
Boerne, Texas (2 reports)
Brazoria, Texas
Broaddus, Texas
Bulverde, Texas
Carlsbad, Texas
College Station, Texas
Copperas Cove, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Desoto, Texas
Fate, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Garland, Texas (2 reports)
Georgetown, Texas
Haltom City, Texas
Helotes, Texas
Houston, Texas
Humble, Texas
Iredell, Texas
Keller, Texas
La Vernia, Texas
Lake Jackson, Texas
Midland, Texas
New Braunfels, Texas
New Caney, Texas (2 reports)
Rockport, Texas
Rowlett, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Spicewood, Texas
Spring, Texas (2 reports)
Tyler, Texas
Weatherford, Texas
Zapata, Texas
Lanexa, Virginia



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