How are your hardy Hibiscuses this year?

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

I'd love to see pictures of your plants as they progress through spring and into the summer. Any of the hardy Hibs -- Rose of Sharon (H. syriacus), H. moscheutos, any of them. Love them ALL.

A new 'Aphrodite' last year.

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High Desert, NV(Zone 5a)

Here are two of mine from last summer. They haven't broken dormancy yet this year :)
Fireball & Plum Crazy

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Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

Those are beauties. Thanks for posting them, tombaak.

Mine have all broken dormancy here. We've had an unusually warm winter though. Everything is ahead of schedule.

High Desert, NV(Zone 5a)

Thanks Clive, I've never seen 'Aphrodite' before, it's lovely!

Mine won't break dormancy for another month :( I do have a Fireball about to bloom in the living room though.

Last fall when it went dormant I dug it up, put it in a big pot and let it rest in the garage for a few months, then tricked it into an early spring back in late Feb. I also have a tropical about to bloom inside, but it won't be anything compared to the HUGE blooms Fireball gets.

Do you have many of the hardy variety? Can you grow the tropicals outside?


This message was edited Apr 15, 2012 12:14 PM

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

Thanks, Melissa, it's one of those new sterile (or almost sterile) cultivars of H. syriacus ... along with Minerva and Helene. You can prune them into nice small tree forms, if desired. They reach about 8-10 ft.

I have about 8 or 9 hardy Hibs but most are smaller right now. We moved here less than three years ago so I've started all over again with the yard. Kind of a chore ( lots of old tree roots and Bermuda grass) but fun too.

Our winter temps usually drop into the teens so I can't grow the tropicals outdoors year around. I wish I could and am thinking of getting a few tropical Hibs to grow indoors. There are so many hybrids of those now, though, it's hard to make a decision about which ones to buy. :-D

Nice to chat with someone who likes the hardy Hibs! I hope you will continue to post your photos, etc. And definitely post a shot of 'Fireball'. That is interesting that you dug it and forced the bloom. I'm thinking I could keep a couple of the hardy varieties in pots outside and then bring them in to do that. Hmmmmm....

We lived for decades in CA and spent some time living in the high desert there as well as traveling to NV many times ... so I am somewhat familiar with your climate and growing conditions (only warmer). Although I don't think I ever had a zone below 7 anywhere we lived out West.

Looking forward to seeing and hearing more. :)


Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

Another shot or two from last year.

H. moscheutos 'Luna Pink Swirl'.

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High Desert, NV(Zone 5a)

Hi Carole! lol, I don't know why but I kept seeing Cville as Clive :)

That Luna Pink Swirl is so pretty!!! I'll take a pic of my Fireball in the living room today. The first bud should open within the week.

I have to admit I was really skeptical when I saw pics of Plum Crazy and Fireball and read they were hardy here. Then when they came (sad little sticks in 3" pots) I figured I'd been had ($15 for that!) but potted them up into gallon containers, tucked them in an out of the way corner of the deck and promptly put them out of my mind.

They grew, but almost died about a dozen times that summer because I kept forgetting to water them and they would dry out and drop all their leaves before I took notice. My 10 yo daughter had had a major surgery that spring so the summer was a really tough one & I never got around to planting them.

So, last spring when they broke dormancy I was amazed that they had survived my neglect the summer before and a winter (we get lots of days below freezing and even several below 0 here) in the gallon nursery pots I had put them in! I decided to plant them, but couldn't decide where (and this really makes me sound like I'm a plant torturer... I'm really not) I buried the gallon pots in a raised bed "holding area". I figured they wouldn't dry out as fast there and I could prepare a place for them in the yard. But they shot up so fast that when I went to pull them out they had rooted into the soil. So I left them like that for the summer. They got 3 - 4 feet tall and bloomed like mad!!!

Last fall when I dug them up to release them from their bondage the plastic pots practically blew open from the pressure as soon as I cut into them, the roots out the holes were HUGE.

That's when I decided to bring one in for the winter since I had them dug up to cut the pots off them anyway.

Anyhow, I am hooked!!! This spring I've ordered 8 other varieties and have them sunning themselves in my living room till next month when I can plant them outside. In the dirt!!! No more heeling the pots in "for a few weeks" ;)

High Desert, NV(Zone 5a)

PS. I'm very jealous of your zone 7. I lived in the Bay Area for years and I think 7 is about perfect :)

I grew up here in Nevada (about 11 miles east of Carson City) and when we moved back I was in a bit of gardening depression. But over the years I've adjusted.

Looking forward to seeing more of your pics! Though it'll cost me as now I think I NEED Luna Pink Swirl...

I do have about 20 seedlings that I started 2 months ago. The seeds came a couple of different places, some from a friend in Utah and others from a DG friend, so they are a bit of mixed bag. I love a mystery!

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

LOL. I kinda' like Clive. ^_^

Zone 7 is good, I agree. When I had that zone out West, we got very, very little snow and cold. We lived in Redding for 17 years (somewhere between zone 7 and zone 8a) and I think we had snow about 4 or 5 times total in all those years. Here there is always (except for this year) a lot of cold and usually (except for this year) a number of snowfalls. And ice ... I detest the ice. But I love that everything is so green and lush.

San Fran is great. We got over there many times while living in Redding. A world-class city indeed.

Those blooms on Luna are probably 8-9 inches across. Gorgeous. Sometimes she looks pinker and sometimes more purple.

I have a mystery NOID plant as well but not from seed. Someone gave me a small cutting of an H. moscheutos. It didn't bloom last year but it grew well and leafed out. I see it's putting up some new shoots from the base now. I had put it in a pot and not in the easiest circumstances for it to prosper, but it obviously rooted and we'll see what happens.

Do you scarify and/or soak your Hib seeds before planting?

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Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I'm hooked on the hardy hibs. And Tom, some of them are hardy enough to survive zone 4 or 5.

Plum Crazy is just awesome. The blooms are like crepe paper, all crinkly. And they're such an unusual color. Here's a picture of mine. Sometimes it looks purpler instead of this shade of pink.

This message was edited Apr 17, 2012 5:26 AM

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Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

This one is Chablis Vintage hib. It's outstanding! Notice the slight pink blush on it. It only gets about 4 ft tall, nice and petite.

I very rarely water and my hibs do great in ground. I don't grow anything in pots since I don't water. People tell me that hibs NEED water, but that's just not true. If you weane them off of the water, they can go two months without it--if you mulch well. Mine are all in full sun all day in hot, dry Ark, with temps over 100 degrees.

The only plants I've tried to grow that can't tolerate a drought are some hosta cultivars and Joe Pye Weed. But everything else I grow has learned to be tough.

But like I said, I don't grow anything in pots. The roots can't dig deep enough to get to the water reserve deep in the ground, so they die quickly. Maybe one day I can set up an irrigation system.

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Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Here's my Fireball. And next to it is one that was sold to me as Fireball but is slightly different. I think it might be My Valentine. I just bought My Valentine, so I'll be comparing the two.

Notice that the 2nd hib doesn't have the deep burgundy center that Fireball has. It has the same leaves though. And it really puts on a show, loaded with blooms--probably 50 or more blooms at any one time. People driving down the highway often stop to ask me what it is. But despite all the blooms, I only get one or two seed pods each year. Strange!

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Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

Yay, another hardy Hib fanatic. Nice, ButterflyChaser. Aren't these plants just the greatest?!

I rarely water mine either. Just when we have a prolonged period of drought in the heat of summer.

I've read that 'Fireball' is sterile and does not set seed. I don't have it so I don't know. It's one of the Fleming Hybrids like 'Kopper King' and 'Dreamcatcher'.

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

Some of a friend's (and her neighbor's) syriacuses. Sorry for the lousy shots. I didn't take time to adjust the exposure and it was extremely bright and sunny that day.

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High Desert, NV(Zone 5a)

Hi Butterfly! Nice to see your pics as well :) Our Plum Crazys look just the same, but your fireball looks a more brick red than mine. I wonder if it's just the pic, mine is an almost fire engine red. Does your (Maybe Valentine) bloom ore profusely than Fireball? I love the cut leaves that Fireball has! Are you growing out the seeds it set?


I don't scarify or soak my seeds. I used to do it with morning glories, but don't for those either anymore. I use those black trays that have little 1" cells. I fill them with 1/2 vermiculite and 1/2 Eden Valley Garden potting soil which is very fluffy and fine. It also has chicken manure, bat guano and worm castings, so lots of good poo :) It's expensive (@ $18 for 2cu ft where I get it) but it's the bomb for indoor plants and seed starting! After filling the cells I put the seeds in and wet it really good. Then I put the clear lid that comes with them on top and put them under grow lights. Once the seeds sprout, I take the lid off, otherwise you risk rot. I think the high humidity and warmth negates the need for scarification. This is the first year I've grown hibiscus from seed, but the germination rate was really good, and I always get really good germination with my morning glories too.

I went googling for Luna Pink Swirl, didn't find one, but did find Tie Dye, which is similar, and I instantly needed. lol Here is the pic of Tie Dye from the site, and a pic of my Fireball buds in my living room. Also, two of my little NOID seedlings :)

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Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Did I say I got seeds from my Fireball? Sorry, I meant, My Valentine-lookalike. I still call it Fireball too sometimes since that's the name I got it under.

My real Fireball is new. I just got it last year and then realized that they both couldn't be Fireball. They're identical except for the maroon center that the real FB has. I only got a handful of blooms from the real one last year and no seeds. I'll have to see how it performs this year in comparison to the fake FB.

I have tried to grow the seeds from the fake FB but I don't have much luck with any hib seeds. I'm going to collect them again this year and save them for when I have time to spend on propagating.

I picked up a new hibiscus today at Homestead Farms in Coldwater, MS, in case you're interested, Cville. Coldwater is about 20 miles or so from Memphis. If you haven't been to Homestead, you have to go. They're just right off Hwy 55 in MS. But plan on being there at least 3 hrs if you want to see everything. They're about as big as Dabney's in Memphis. They have several newer hibs, like Summer Storm, Berrylicious, Cranberry Crush, Jazberry Jam, Kopper King, Blue River II, Turn of the Century, etc.

Berrylicious was in a 3 gal pot for $13.75. Some of the others were cheaper, depending on what pot size they were available in. But I had to have Berrylicious. It's a lavender colored dinnerplate hib. Here's a link to pics and info:

Dabney's also has some of the newer hibs a little cheaper. Can't remember which ones. Of course they both have the tropical hibs too, but I don't buy those.

Homestead had some tropical hibs with the dark variegated leaves. The name escapes me at the moment. If I did tropicals, it would be THE one I'd do. It's almost like a burgundy japanese maple. Maybe it was Hib. Acetosella - Cranberry Hib. But the leaves red, pink, and orange variegated if I remember correctly. It was outstanding! They had it in the tropical/annual greenhouse.

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

Oh, that Tie Dye is beautiful! Good choice.

Thanks, BC. I am receiving some from a co-op and I think I'd better check on the status of that order. I've even forgotten what I bought. So unlike me. :-D)))

Due to illness in our home, I can't get away to run to the nurseries. I tried to make the TN nursery run to Rita's and the other nurseries last spring but couldn't at the last minute. Melody was going to meet up with me just east where our paths cross and give me a ride to and from to help out, but it didn't happen. :( (Here's the link for Melissa to see what we're talking about:

Yes, the tropicals are gorgeous. And some of those have beautiful variegated foliage as well. I'm going to order a few, I think, but still undecided since they have to over-winter indoors and I already bring in a number of things. The dining room is a sea of plants in the winter. No room to eat. lol.

I have always taken cuttings and never tried seeds. Someone recommended putting the seeds in a little vial of water with some peroxide added and let them soak for several hours or overnight before planting. Don't know about that as I never tried. I am just fond of rooting cuttings.

More out of focus syriacus shots from last year. Point and shoot doesn't always cut it. Or maybe it's the photographer. :-)

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Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Can you tell me how to do cuttings? I've no luck with those and I'd like to try it. I've just been dividing my hibs when I could, but I'd love to fill my brother's yard up with hibs too. He loves them.

High Desert, NV(Zone 5a)

I would be interested in your method for cuttings too Carole. Now I'm wondering if my Hibiscus seed germination success was a fluke. lol

BC, I have been lusting after Berrylicious too!

High Desert, NV(Zone 5a)

I almost bought this one "Torchy" based on the first picture. But when I clicked on "more views" saw the second. Now I'm not sure. I loved that it was more burgundy than red... I know where the plant is grown and even the weather has a bit to do with coloration, but having been disappointed in the past with actual color vs catalog color, I'm going to hold off.

Have either of you seen Torchy in person?

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Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I haven't seen it in person but it's beautiful in the pictures. I love the crinkly petals. The texture is as appealing as the color I think.

I know with a lot of dark foliaged plants, if you plant them in part shade, the foliage stays dark. But if you plant them in sun, the foliage "bleaches out" some. I wonder if the same would be true of Torchy? You might get darker blooms if it only gets a bit of morning sun.

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

That is gorgeous! Yes, I agree about the texture. Wonderful.

I'm sort of embarrassed to tell my "technique" for rooting the Hib cuttings. I really don't have one. I take the cuttings and if rooting hormone happens to be handy, I dip them in that and then stick them in my rooting bucket which has good light potting soil as the growing medium. Water them in. That's about it. Keep out of direct sun for awhile. When I tug and it appears they have good roots, I dig them and plant wherever I want them, pot or ground. The syriacus can get out of control around here so all you really have to do with those is take a stem cutting and stick it right back in the ground somewhere. Then don't run over it with the lawnmower. :-/

This is the cutting of H. moscheutos NOID someone sent me last year. It was a little rootless stick but grew to about the height of the bamboo stake, maybe 3 ft. or so. It leafed well but didn't bloom last year. Now I see several new shoots emerging after the winter dieback. Yay. Maybe I'll get a bloom this year and be able to ID it finally.

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High Desert, NV(Zone 5a)

NOIDs are fun :) Unless of course they make you wait forever before they actually bloom! I hope yours is something lovely. I'm hoping that at least some of my seedlings bloom this year. I've read that hardy hibs will often bloom from seed the first year. I hope I don't end up with a ton of white.

I love the shells in your pot. I under plant all my pots with ground cover or use decorative rocks etc. otherwise my LAZY cats use them for bathrooms :(

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

That's pretty much how I've done my cuttings too. What time of year do you take cuttings?

I usually put mulch on top of my pots to help hold in moisture and keep out weeds.

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

I hope mine is something lovely too, Melissa. Or at least different from what I already have. :-D

I take my hardwood cuttings of syriacus in the spring (or even late winter) since they are slower to break dormancy usually. Not this year though. Really, here you can take syriacus cuttings almost any time, it seems.

I take the moscheutos cuttings in the late summer usually. How about you?

Good idea about the mulch. It really helps with all the seeds that blow around and sprout up here as well.

Three cats and a bunch of squirrels so I get that part about the digging. I've had quite a few black walnut trees come up in my pots courtesy of the latter. Hence, the shells. :)

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I've taken cuttings at different times and had awful results each time. I did manage to get a couple of cuttings to root, but then I forgot to water them and lost them. When I have more time to focus on propagation, I'll give it a try again. I know I can do it; it's just a matter of focus I think.

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

I do that too. Out of sight, out of mind. I've lost more than a few that way. Others, just when I was about to give up and toss them, they rooted. One thing for sure, this isn't an exact science. :-D

I have something stuck in a rooting pot out there now that I can't even remember what it is. A thin little stick that looks like it's doing nothing ... but when I tug, the roots seem firm. Guess I'll move it to it's own pot and see what develops.

A shot I took somewhere in town. Two nice double purple syriacuses. :)

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Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Those are nice rose of sharons. I grow one called Blushing Bride which is white with a slight pink tinge on it. I love it, but I prefer the dinnerplate hibs. They're just so bold and showy.

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

Yes, the big Hibs are gorgeous. My problem is that I like everything. ^_^

High Desert, NV(Zone 5a)

I'm with you Clive, every one I see is lovelier than the next!

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I agree, I can't resist too many plants either. On Tues, I went to Memphis and MS and spent all day loading my van up with unusual plants from the nurseries there. I came home pretty satisfied that I had just about everything I want now.

Then I agreed to tag along with the Midsouth DGers yesterday to four other nurseries, feeling pretty confident that I wouldn't buy much. I mean, I've been collecting unusual plants for years! My yard is FULL. And guess what happened. I managed to fill my van up again with more plants I've never even heard of. OMG, How can there be that many unique plants??? I spent hours at each nursery oooohing and aaaaahing and petting foliage and I swear, the colors just got brighter and bold from one nursery to the next. I was out of money by the time we left the last nursery. I may not eat for the rest of the month...but who needs food when you have all this eye candy?? LOL

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

Oh, nursery run time again? How a year has flown! I envy you the trip and glad you found so many unusual plants. Did you see my friend Bonnie (n2birds) in Memphis?

Well, what kinds of things did you get? Give us a little hint of your bounty. I like the unusual and I'll just bet Melissa does too.

The NOID Hib is putting out new growth by leaps and bounds now. I should see it bloom this year and hopefully find out what it is. Yay! ^_^
(As they used to say where I come from, it doesn't take much to amuse some people, does it?) lol.

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Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

That hib is looking very healthy!! Please post a pic when it blooms since you got us all curious!

Bonnie didn't make yesterday's trip. I haven't seen her in a few years, but then I don't always make the trip when everyone else does. Let me see if I can remember what I got:

a burgundy leafed ninebark
a gingko tree
a golden elderberry with lacy foliage
a beautiful new japanese maple (Orangeola) with burgundy lacy-leaf foliage, which I've always wanted
several different garden phloxes
several different penstemons
several different eupatoriums (joe pye weeds)
several different butterfly bushes, including Silver Anniversary (white blooms, silvery leaves) and Evil Ways (golden green leaves with DOUBLE purple blooms)
a new guara with burgundy and pink leaves
all kinds of brightly colored coleus (a beautiful Pink one is called Pink Chaos)
a new potato vine that has green and gold oval shaped leaves
Mojito mint
mint julep mint
pineapple mint
lots of the usual herbs and veggies
Heuchera Plum Royal (dark purple foliage)
different bee balms
Peach Drift rose (miniature peach blooms that smell divine!)
Lots of interesting sedums, including the new Chocolate Drop sedum with purple foliage
Several different yarrows
Several unusual ornamental grasses, including a maiden grass with burgundy leaves
variegated dwarf bamboo--just a little groundcover, gets about a foot or so tall
Black Scallop ajuga, the new ajuga with nearly black foliage and the leaves are nice and big
Unusual coneflowers including some doubles like Irresistible and Hot Papaya

And much more - I couldn't resist anything! It's a good thing I only do this once a year. I missed last year's trip but I sure made up for it this year!! LOL

Nutley, NJ(Zone 6b)

Attached are three pictures of the Hibiscus Annie J. Hemming (PP835) flower with five, six and seven petals. The Annie J. Hemming was the first Hibiscus, of any type, to be awarded a US Plant Patent on May 10, 1949 to Ernest Hemming.


Because the Hibiscus was not named in the Plant Patent, it is also know as the Hemming Red. This may be one of the oldest identifiable heirloom Hibiscus still in existence and commercially available. In addition to producing flowers with extra petals, the leaves are smooth and shinny. It is a document fact that Ernest Hemming didn’t like Hibiscus with fussy leaves.

Ernest Hemming created the first Hardy Hibiscus which was commercially introduced in 1907 under the name “Meehan Mallow Marvels” and sold by the Thomas Meehan Nursery for whom he worked. Several years after the introduction of the “Meehan Mallow Marvels” the Nursery stated that one of their objectives was the breeding of a hardy double. It is suspected that the Annie J. Hemming was Ernest Hemming’s final effort toward achieving that goal.


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Nutley, NJ(Zone 6b)

To ButterflyChaser,

Your second photograph is of Hibiscus Lord Baltimore which is “almost” pod sterile. Lord Baltimore is the pod parent for Lady Baltimore and the Plant Patent for Lady Baltimore documents the breeding issue with Lord Baltimore.

Hibiscus plant named Lady Baltimore

Last year I posted a report that pollen from Hibiscus Moy Grande will pollinate Hibiscus Lord Baltimore with a 100% success rate. The first generation hybrids from this cross should be breaking dormancy shortly. I strongly suspect that the pollen tubes from most Hibiscus are not long enough to achieve federalization.

You should be grateful you are getting one or two pods a year. Until I found Moy Grande I never had any pods and believe me I tried pollen from every hibiscus I had.

Many, including myself, consider Hibiscus Lord Baltimore to be purest red Hardy Hibiscus ever created.


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Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Thank you, Mike. I believe you are right about my noid Hib. That's funny because I'd been wanting a Lord Balt for years and didn't have any luck in finding one...and I had it all Dorothy's red slippers. LOL

Nutley, NJ(Zone 6b)

The tip of the Stigma on Lord Baltimore is a dark red but that varies with time of day. It is difficult to discern the Stigma color in your photograph but some of the flowers in the background appeared to have red Stigma. The uniform red color, Marijuana like leaf, high bloom rate and very low rate of pod set are all indicators for Lord Baltimore. Look at the Stigma color in my photograph and check the color of your Stigma this summer just after the flower opens. Very few “red” Hibiscus are uniformly red.

One of the reasons Lord Baltimore is such a prolific bloomer is because it doesn’t set pods easily. Note that Lady Baltimore is also a prolific bloomer and pod producer. In the case of Lardy Baltimore the pods become a nuisance and need to be removed to improve appearance.

Check this Lord Baltimore photograph from 2011 and again note the colors.

Just remember that over half of the photographs of Lord Baltimore posted on DG are not of Lord Baltimore.


Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Ok, I looked at some other pics I have of mine, and the stigma is red. Here's a good pic so you can see. Thanks for all your help, Mike!

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Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

Great info. Thanks from me too, Mike.

Wow, BC, you got a lot of great plants. I'll be anxious to hear how they progress. How much property do you have?

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I don't have much property, so I don't waste any of it on lawn. Lawn, to me, is boring; it just lies there. I see other people's beautiful green lawns and they look so nice. But I want bloomers everywhere. And I want my mints and herbs and veggies. So I don't have room for lawn. My entire yard is a botanical garden with mulched trails all the way around the house. Here's a picture of on part of my yard; this is the biggest side of my yard.

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