Question: I planted hibiscus plants this spring. Now I’m concerned about whether they’ll make it through the winter, and how I can identify the perennial types.

Answer: The winter-hardy hibiscus, also called “mallows,” have dull leaves, while tropical types have glossy, deep green foliage. Flowers of the most common hardy types will always be single, and they’ll always be white, red or pink. Hardy types will begin to die back in September. Usually, by the time the first freeze kills their top growth back to the ground, they have already pretty much died back on their own. Tropical types, by comparison, just keep on growing. Best help you can give the hardy types in surviving a Texas winter is to leave them alone. Leave a few inches of their stems, so you can tell where the clumps are. They’ll be the last of your summer perennials to sprout out and start growing again in the spring, so be patient.

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