Lavatera vs. Hibiscus


Cassy Aoyagi.  Lavatera and Hibiscus both provide generous screens or focal points of large striking flowers – some up to 15 high! Their similarities stop with their profound and bountiful beauty. One thrives in the wild and woolly west, while the other is a high-maintenance and delicate beauty that will have a hard time surviving Southern California without heroic levels of intervention.



The challenges in growing hibiscus become a laundry list at best.

  • Native to Asia, hibiscus craves soil where water is abundant.
  • It wilts and withers with drought and retracts from our clay soils.
  • Hibiscus struggles to survive and inevitably becomes a host for whitefly and scale, truly unpleasant pests.

In short, Hibiscus requires intensive maintenance to stay remotely healthy, and it will never be truly happy in L.A.



In contrast, Lavatera relishes Southern California’s climate and etches out a reasonable living from our poor and clay soils.

  • It is tolerant of salt or coastal influences.
  • A very fast grower, Lavatera will reach its full potential in a couple of years where conditions are just right.
  • If cut hard, it will promote basal and even growth.

Lavatera may grow slower inland and part shade, and frost damage is likely below 15-20 degrees. With those exceptions, Lavatera will happily throw out showy pink flowers for your enjoyment, asking very little from you or its environment to give L.A. and your landscape its very best.

For more guidance on where to plant big dry ones, see our past Wet-to-Dry Exchange articles.