Hibiscus mutabilis, also known as the Confederate rose or the cotton rosemallow, is a plant noted for its large, showy flowers and ease of growth. This hibiscus is also a cold hardy perennial to zone 5. Flowers have a peony form, 6 to 8 inches in diameter; they open white or pink, and change to deep red by evening. Bloom season usually lasts from summer to first frost. In areas without frost, the Confederate rose can reach heights of 18 to 20 feet with a woody trunk; however, a much bushier, 5 or 6 feet plant is more typical and provides more flowering. These plants have a very fast growth rate. The Confederate rose was at one time very common in the area of the Confederate States of America, which is how its common name was derived. It grows well in full sun or partial shade, and prefers rich, well-drained soil. Flowers are white in the morning, turning pink during noon and red in the evening of the same day. Under laboratory conditions, colour change of petals was slower than that of flowers under outdoor conditions (Wong et al., 2009). Temperature may be an important factor affecting the rate of colour change as white flowers kept in the refrigerator remain white until they are taken out to warm, whereupon they slowly turn pink (Ng, 2006). Cut Confederate Rose Hibiscus back to the ground after the first frost. Plant returns in the spring.
Uses Leaves and flowers of H. mutabilis are emollient and cooling, and are used to treat swellings and skin infections (Dasuki, 2001). Mucilage from flowers and leaves is used by midwives to facilitate delivery during labour.