Herbaceous Perennial Hibiscus

Herbaceous Perennial Hibiscus

By Larry Hurley – Behnkes Perennial Plant Buyer/Manager

There are lots of different hibiscus out there.  Tropical Hibiscus are used as landscape plants in Hawaii, Florida and other climes that are usually warm—or even tropical—year round.  Here we use them as patio plants in the summer, and houseplants in the winter.

The shrub, Rose of Sharon, is a Woody Hibiscus.  Officially Hibiscus syriacus, it is the National Plant of South Korea.  Rose of Sharon does well here but has a reputation for weediness, although some of the newer forms don’t seed out into the garden like the older ones did.

What I am writing about is a third type of Hibiscus, the Herbaceous Perennial Hibiscus that die to the ground each winter, overwinter as a crown, and resprout in late spring to flower in summer.  Most of the perennial hibiscus that we sell are hybrids between several species, many of which are native to Maryland.  You should be able to see them in bloom in summer in marshy areas (for example, where the Patuxent River crosses Highway 4 east of DC; big white flowers)… Read the rest of this article

We are excited about some new writers for our Garden Blog since our wonderful Susan Harris has semi-retired (no worries, you will still hear from Susan from time to time).  I have known Jessica since she was a little girl, and her mother would bring her to our wholesale nursery while she shopped for her landscape company. I think everyone will enjoy Jessica’s fun-loving out look on gardening.  We will also have  postings coming soon from our favorite florist, Evelyn Kinville. 

Enjoy! Stephanie Fleming

Jessica-CrawfordHello All!  Thank you for welcoming me to the Behnke’s Garden Blog.  My name is Jessica Crawford and I have long since come to terms with the fact that I am addicted to my garden.  Mostly my fruits and vegetables but I am also serious about my flower gardens.

This addiction has also lead me to many other mini and not-so-mini addictions; jamming, canning and preserving, cooking and  experimenting with new flavors in the kitchen, foraging, crafting with things found in my own back yard or nature, re-purposing and up-cycling, bargain hunting, scouring yard sales for hidden gems, and simplicity and frugality in my everyday life.

It all started as far back as my memory can retrieve.  Born to two horticulturists, I think it was just destined to be in my blood.  I have vivid memories of trucking around my parent’s yard and gardens in a pair of garden wellies and coveralls, sweaty and covered in dirt, helping to water the plants, check on the veggie patch or plant annuals.  In terms of the canning, my maternal grandmother started that fire for me.  We started canning together when I was very young.


My grandparents own a 60 acre farm in Southern England where I would spend every Summer as a child.  I remember picking gooseberries and currants with my Grammie, cleaning them up, boiling them down and straining them through a pillowcase suspended from the ceiling, specially reserved for jelly making.  Then waking up early in the morning to finish the jelly.  We still exchange canning recipes.


Now, my husband and I live in an 1880’s farmhouse which we have committed ourselves to renovating for the next 20 years.  We have a vivacious and adventurous two-year-old son named Grayson who already thrives outside in the fresh air.  Our hopes for the future are to have a mini homestead where we can focus on self-sufficiency, teaching our son about growing your own food, have a little plot of land and a handful of animals.

Currently I work part time as a Landscape Design Assistant.  I’ve always felt that my passions have been a contribution to our family by putting a little money back in our pockets by putting our own food on the table. As we grow and evolve in our adventure, I hope you enjoy the journey right alongside us.  I am greatly looking forward to sharing snapshots of our lives with you!

Posted by: Behnke’s Guest Blogger – Jessica Crawford

Back To School Night at Behnke’s


Friday August 15, 2014 – Behnkes is working with Emmanuel United Methodist Church of Beltsville to collect school supplies for children in the community for the upcoming school year. Drop off new school supplies during OUR back to school night and receive a $5 Behnke Coupon and take advantage of nursery specials between 6-8 pm.

Emmanuel United Methodist Church will be distributing the backpacks and supplies on a first come first served basis at their monthly food distribution, Saturday August 23rd 10-11:30am.

The Church address is:
11416 Cedar Lane
Beltsville MD, 20705
Phone 301-937-7114.

The people who come are from the local and surrounding areas, including Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Riverdale and Hyattsville.

The schools that most of the children attend are Beltsville Elementary, Mother Jones Elementary, Martin Lurther King Jr Middle School, High Point, Calverton Elementary, Riverdale elelmentary and Hyattsville elementary.

The supplies they need most are backpacks, pens pencils, rulers, glue or gluesticks, crayons, colored pencils, scissors, erasors, spiral notebooks, pencil boxes or bags, composition books and notebook paper.

They could also use protractors, compasses, graph paper and claculators or book covers as well but are not a priority.

In Season, In Woodies!

abeliaAbelia – Although grown in gardens for decades, Abelias have recently undergone a revolution in new introductions. Shorter growth habits and very colorful leaves have made new appearances and there are many to choose from nowadays. Flowers are starting to open now (August) and plants will repeat-bloom until October.

Butterflies and other pollinators sometimes visit the flowers, and in mild winters the leaves will remain and blush with hues of rose or orange. Full sun in best but they will bloom (though later) in partial shade. Deer tend to leave them alone, and they can easily be trimmed in spring if you desire a more formal shape to their otherwise relaxed form.



Japanese Stewartia – Not many trees bloom this time of year, (August) but Stewartia is certainly one of the loveliest of the bunch. White flowers reminiscent of a single-flowered Camellia (to which they are related) appear on the branch tips, and fall foliage turns great shades of red, orange and amber.

Bark on older trees flakes off to reveal a patchwork of color as well. Our trees have flower buds and some open flowers right now (early August)… come and see if one wants to adopt you.




Franklin Tree
– While only known to be native to a very localized part of Georgia, they grow well all the way up here, and we’re grateful for that. Another Camellia cousin, their similar white flowers are also budding and opening now (early August), and their leaves take on fantastic hues of scarlet, orange and maroon in the autumn.

More of an open, shrubby tree, they’re happy as an understory specimen in bright dappled shade, and show off best if you can site them where you can look down on them from a tall deck or second story so you can most easily appreciate the flowers at the ends of the branches.



 Dogwoods – A trait often overlooked in Dogwoods is summer foliage interest. Sure, they certainly have plenty going for them already – spring flowers, fall foliage and berries and sometimes flaking bark – but why not also get summer color with the leaves?

We carry yellow-edged and white-edged forms of Chinese, American and hybrid forms. Dogwoods are happiest in a bright understory exposure – part sun and part shade – but the variegated types will take full sun without burning if protected from drought conditions.

Also underused in the world of Dogwoods are the shrubby “red-twig” types and two other natives – Pagoda and Silky Dogwoods. Birds adore dogwood berries and these plants are always in the top-ten list of plants for attracting birds due to the diversity of species they attract. Although the flowers are a bit less showy than the more commonly planted Dogwoods, they still have seasons of interest in their own right and are much deserving of more use.

Posted by: Miri Talabac, Behnke’s Woody Plant Buyer

Summer Fun! Toys from Melissa & Doug

This year we started carrying a whole new product line of children’s toys by Melissa & Doug.

license-plate-gameWe have their wonderful beach toys along with these great wooden games to take along while traveling. I remember looking for license plates while on vacation. Here are just two of the many choices you will find.

Road Trip! Add excitement to travel with this sturdy, reusable classic travel game. Learn the name and location of all fifty states, identify states by their license plate design or simply plot your trip by flipping the states along your route…

travel-bingoBINGO on the go! Choose an appropriate theme among the eight provided, slide a card into each game boards and pay attention to the passing scenery! Includes two game boards and four double-sided game cards.

There are no loose pieces and everything stores conveniently in the board. Great for travel! This is truly fun on the go! No loose pieces to leave a trail!

Posted by: Stephanie Fleming

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