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Growing on the High Plains: Hardy Hibiscus

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Today's episode will sweep you off to a tropical island, making you murmur, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."

I have a dinner plate-sized place in my heart for the hibiscus flower, which always serves as a reminder of a cherished tropical vacation. But these flashy exotics have since been adapted for cooler climates, so you can often find them -- and their cousins like the "swamp mallow -- around our region. My hybrid "hardy hibiscus" does well on the High Plains, despite presenting as pekid at times. Their bright, warm hues and soft, flapping petals offer a splash of color fit for the islands.

Years ago Skip Mancini left the rocky coast of Northern California to return to her roots in the heartland. Her San Francisco friends, concerned over her decision to live in a desolate flatland best known for a Hollywood tornado, were afraid she would wither and die on the vine. With pioneer spirit, Skip planted a garden. She began to learn about growing not only flowers and vegetables, but hearts and minds. If you agree that the prairie is a special place, we think you'll enjoy her weekly sojourns into Growing on the High Plains.