Alyogyne or native Hibiscus is well worth looking at for free flowering plants to suit most gardens in the Riverland and Mallee. Most gardeners would be familiar with tropical Hibiscus and many are quite successful locally until the frost hits. The native Hibiscus is pretty much the same except that they are tolerant of poor soils and very dry conditions once established.

The original species A. huegelii and A. hakeifolia are widespread over southern Australia and one glorious sight would have to be native hibiscus generously dotted over rocky hillsides in full bloom.

Many new hybrids have a wide colour range from the pale yellow, pink and purple tones. They also have a very long flowering period for most of the year, although individual flowers only last a day. The new hybrids tend to be denser than the original species they have been derived from and the occasional light prune will keep them even denser. They grow very quick, so for new gardens they can be used as quick screen and fillers. I like to use some of the darker purple forms with smaller Acacia or wattles for a really strong colour contrast of purple and bright yellow.

Most forms grow to 2 to 3 m and some claim to stay smaller – around 1.5m to 2m. While native hibiscus tolerates dry conditions it would be a mistake to leave them to their own devises in a garden. Regular watering (say fortnightly) and feeding (spring and autumn) will mean that you will get the most out of these tough shrubs.

The best way to buy Alyogyne is in bloom so you know what colour they will be as the picture labels don’t always give an accurate idea of the flower colour.

So for quick growing colourful shrubs, consider native Hibiscus.

This article first published in the Riverland Weekly © December 6, 2012.