Favorite or New Plant
In July, hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutus),also called common rose mallow, comes into bloom with its dramatic, dinner-plate-sized flowers. Although each flower only lasts a day, new flowers will continue to open for many weeks. The upright, branching stems bear large, maple-like leaves. Adding a bold, tropical feel to the garden, hardy hibiscus can reach 4 to 6 feet tall, depending on the variety. It thrives in full sun and moist, even wet, fertile soil. Hardy to -20 degrees F, it's slow to emerge in spring, so it's a good idea to mark its spot so your don't accidentally disturb it as you work in the garden before it wakes up. Hardy hibiscus is a favorite of Japanese beetles, so keep an eye out for these voracious pests.
Removing faded flowers from perennials makes the garden look prettier, plus, for some plants, it will encourage re-blooming. For other perennials, cutting the entire plant back works even better, giving a period of flowering in the fall. One of the best resources for advice on how and when to prune perennials is The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques (Timber Press, expanded edition 2006, $34.95) by Tracy DiSabato-Aust. The book details the essential practices of perennial care, such as deadheading, pinching, and cutting back.