During the 1960s, the Sakata Seed Corporation in Japan began hybridizing hardy hibiscus. Their work produced the very successful H. 'Southern Belle' and H. 'Dixie Belle', but their greatest hits were produced in the 1970's and 80's with the spectacular 'Disco Belle' series.
In more recent years, the story of the Hibiscus Hybrids shifted to Lincoln, Nebraska, where the now-famous Fleming Brothers went to work on the hibiscus species. Scenes from the Flemings' nursery, called Fleming Flower Fields, are shown at left and below, with some of the incredible hibiscus hybrids created there. They are all patented plants.
The Flemings are a fascinating family. The three brothers never married, always stayed on the home property, and devoted their entire lives to hybridizing flowers. Their mother was the State Naturalist for Nebraska, so they had a deep knowledge of native plants growing up. Today, they're famous as the creators of some of our most valued perennials from Dianthus ("Pinks") to Veronicas to Crape Myrtles. But later in life (the last brother passed away in recent years) they specialized in hybrid hibiscus, and what spectacular results they achieved!