Lifestyles
Texas A&M AgriLife’s novel winter-hardy hibiscus hybrids hitting U.S. market
By Blair Fannin, Texas A&M
Oct 4, 2018
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VERNON – The 2018 Summer Spice Hardy Hibiscus collection by Texas A&M AgriLife Research debuts this weekend with 11 cultivars commercialized by J. Berry Nursery in Grand Saline.

“For the first time ever, in collaboration with J. Berry Nursery, we have developed a number of compact cultivars with novel flower colors ranging from the illusive blue, through various shades of red, coral, magenta, purple, silver and dual colors,” said Dr. Dariusz Malinowski, plant physiologist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Vernon.

Summer Spice Pink Champagne (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo)

The introductory sale of some of these new lines can be found at retail outlets primarily in Texas.

Malinowski and his team were the first to introduce a blue color to the winter-hardy hibiscus. In 2010, they released a hybrid cultivar, Blue Angel, that was a breakthrough achievement in the breeding efforts to create novel flower colors in this species. Based on the genetics of “Blue Angel”, Malinowski has developed about 20 winter-hardy hibiscus hybrids with improved blue color, flower size and plant growth. Three of these blue-flowering hybrids are included in the 2018 Summer Spice Hardy Hibiscus Collection, he said.

Summer Spice Hibiscus Brandy Bleu (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo)

“This spring, J. Berry Nursery will conduct an introductory sale of several of our hibiscus hybrids in selected retail  stores,” Malinowski said. “The whole series has been named Summer Spice and the names of the individual cultivars have been chosen to describe the unique characteristics of these beautiful additions to the summer gardens.”

There will be nine varieties offered for sale in spring 2018, he said.

“The cultivar ‘Plum Flambe’ will be available in late summer,” Malinowski said. “We have achieved enormous success with creating novel flower colors in the winter-hardy hibiscus in a very short time, in just seven years of our research. We still are developing even more attractive colors of flower and foliage, and these new hybrids will soon complement the Summer Spice Hardy Hibiscus collection.”

Summer Spice Hibiscus Plum Flambe (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo)

The 2018 Summer Spice Hardy Hibiscus collection will offer the following cultivars:

–       Amaretto, coral-salmon.

–       Ambrosia,  fuchsia with white eye.

–       Bleu Brulee, sky blue.