Plum Crazy is one of the second wave hybrids by the famous Fleming brothers. (See the story of the Fleming Hibiscus Hybrids below.) After perfecting these stunning plants in red, white and pink, Plum Crazy is what they called antique purple with flowers fully 10 inches across. The foliage is equally innovative. The leaves are dark purple with contrast purple veins and a distinctive maple-like shape.
The Hardy Hibiscus is the result of hybridizing our own little-known North American native wildflower shrubs, the tall wild hibiscus species, mostly one called Hibiscus moscheutos.
Do not confuse these hardy ones with the beautiful tropical ones used as houseplants. That's H. rosa-sinensis, the Chinese Hibiscus, and the national flower of Malaysia. Its also the one everyone enjoys in landscaping in Miami and in Hawaii. If you don't live in those frost-free places, you'll love the hardy types.
The fantastic Hardy Hibiscus hybrids are one of gardenings best-kept secrets, unless one of your neighbors happens to have one. They make glossy green shrubs about 4 or 5 feet tall, and in mid and late summer cover themselves with dinnerplate-sized flowers in a selection of colors.
How the Hardy Hibiscus hybrids happened: One of the earliest sensations in this group was the famous hybrid, Lord Baltimore, followed by Lady Baltimore which was developed during the 1970s.
But those two were only the beginning. Like most sensational groups of hybridized plants, there is usually a passionate person behind it all. In this case, its three people--the famous Fleming Brothers of Lincoln, Nebraska. Years ago, Jim, Bob, and Dave Fleming became interested in the sort of rangy native hibiscus species they knew from the wild. Their mother was the Nebraska State Naturalist, so all three of them grew up as native plant experts. To make a long story short, they spent their entire lives hybridizing and are the creators of many very famous perennials in the market today, but the most famous are the Fleming Hibiscus Hybrids. These patented plants include the world-famous Robert Fleming, Kopper King and many others. The last Fleming brother passed away just a few years ago, but their own wholesale nursery is still in business, and you can visit their website. You'll see fascinating photos and read all about the brothers and their fantastic legacy of fine flowers. Its an incredible story of three men who loved plants. Here's their site: Fleming Flower Fields.