The Confederate rose is also known as Hibiscus Mutabilis or the Cotton Rosemallow. Contrary to the name of the flower itself, the origination of the cotton roses was actually a Southern China native from thousands of years ago.
It was said to have grown quite commonly in the areas that were once known as the Confederate States of America, hence the name.
Another aspect of this misnomer: the plant is actually a Hibiscus flower rather than a rose with close relations to okra and cotton. It is part of the Malvaceae family, which is comprised of thousands of herbs.
The Hibiscus Mutabilis is recognized for its fluffy, billowy petals that are unusually mutable, like their name, the colors of the blossom fading or changing to an entirely different color throughout the day during blooming season.
The astounding aspect of these Confederate flowers is how quickly they can change color. These plants, for instance, will emerge a pure white or light pink in the morning and transform drastically to an intense or hot pink, or possibly even red, by the afternoon.
Warm weather is most likely the factor that induces the color change of the blooms, as flowers left in the refrigerator stay the same until taken out. The color slowly transforms as they warm up to room temperature.
In non-freezing zones, such as the south or subtropics, the Confederate rose tree can grow up to 18 ft (5.5 metres) on a woody trunk resembling a tree, but stays much shorter, shrub-like, and bushier in northern areas, where it performs just like a perennial.
A more typical 5 ft (1.5 metres) to 6 ft (1.8 metres) sized Confederate rose bush will produce more blooms and grow more rapidly than the larger tree-sized plant. Despite the fact that this flower appears delicate, it is actually a fairly hardy shrub that can handle drought seasons and resist diseases.
Around midsummer, the large bright green leaves with widths up to 7 inches (18 cm) are fully grown, with fuzzy undersides and deep lobes. These leaves create a distinctive, bushy, eye-catching background for the fabulously sprouting, color-changing blooms.
The Confederate shrub thrives in both partial shade and full sun in warm climates, especially when planted in rich soil and watered frequently.
Propagating the plant in the fall will ensure carrying on its beauty into the next season in climates where winters are harsh.
Full blossoms can span 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm.) in diameter and may be either single, cup-shaped flowers or double, puffy blooms. These magnificent cotton rose flowers can be expected to repeat bloom from early to mid-summer into late fall. This is one of the magnificent plants that produce blooms later in the fall when others have started to wilt.
Although the stunning blossoms of this Hibiscus Mutabilis plant suggest a beautiful perfume, there is little to no fragrance to accompany its splendor. However, the colors that it entails will certainly attract the attention of hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden.
Interesting Facts: The leaves of Confederate roses can be used as an emollient to soothe and cool skin infections and swelling. Midwives have been known to use the mucilage of the plant during labor to ease delivery.
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