The Hibiscus Charm

August 17, 2022

Boasting bright colors, dazzling names, and glorious trumpet shapes, the hibiscus at the zoo are a fan favorite, always charming visitors this time of year. And it’s no wonder—these remarkable flowers are currently in bloom, with peak bloom arriving in August through early September.  

‘Berry awesome’ hardy hibiscus. Photo courtesy of Ellen Neely.

Lincoln Park Zoo’s herbaceous perennial hibiscus collection is nationally accredited by the American Public Gardens Association Plant Collections Network. The collection serves as a well-documented living library, providing opportunities for staff and researchers to gather important plant knowledge that is valuable to a wide range of professionals as well as home gardeners.  

Where can you spot these large, eye-catching flowers? The hibiscus are located throughout zoo grounds, with clusters at Café Brauer, Park Place Café, the Dream Lady statue outside of Helen Brach Primate House, the East Gate, and by the hillside across from the eastern black rhino habitats.  

“It’s currently one of my favorite times of the year, with the zoo’s hibiscus collection in full bloom,” said Abby Lorenz, manager of plant records and horticulture programs. “Zoo-goers can snap the perfect photo of these striking flowers right here at Lincoln Park Zoo. Blackberry merlot (a type of hardy hibiscus) on the west side of Pepper Family Wildlife Center and spinderella (another type of hardy hibiscus) on the east side are both stunning and are a shining example of how to use hibiscus in garden design.”   

Amaretto hardy hibiscus. Photo courtesy of Ellen Neely.

In addition to the hibiscus collection in full bloom, many other plants at the zoo are flourishing in the summer sun. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled to see if you can spot the blooming hydrangeas, phlox, coneflowers, false sunflowers, ornamental grasses, and summer annuals. 

The zoo’s final Second Saturday Garden Tour of the season occurs September 10. Join fellow nature lovers for a guided tour of the zoo’s expansive gardens and arboretum. Alongside a horticulturist, you’ll discover interesting species in bloom and discuss the horticulture program’s past, present, and future. 

Zoo grounds. Photo courtesy of Cassy Kutilek.




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