Hibiscus mutabilis, also known as the Chinese rose, Confederate rose or the cotton rosemallow, is a plant noted for its flowers. Hibiscus mutabilis tend to be shrubby or treelike. Flowers can be double or single and are 4 to 6 inches in diameter; they open white or pink, and change to deep red by evening. The ‘Rubra’ variety has red flowers. Single blooming flowers are generally cup-shaped. Hibiscus mutabilis can reach heights of 15 to 18 feet with a woody trunk; however, a much bushier, 5 or 6 feet plant is more typical and provides more flowering. These plants have a very fast growth rate.
Flowers are white in the morning, turning pink during noon and red in the evening of the same day. Under laboratory conditions, color change of petals was slower than that of flowers under outdoor conditions. Temperature may be an important factor affecting the rate of color change as white flowers kept in the refrigerator remain white until they are taken out to warm, whereupon they slowly turn pink.
In ancient China, the flowers are believed to resemble beautiful ladies. A Chinese proverb runs: “Cotton rosemallow out of the Water” [出水芙蓉], meaning a young lady of appreciated beauty.