Plant Answers  >  Hibiscus, Moy Grande History

The Making of the Largest, Open-faced Hibiscus Bloom in the World – The ‘Moy Grande’ Hibiscus

By
Jerry M. Parsons, retired Texas A&M Extension Horticulturist


The Making of the Largest, Open-faced Hibiscus Bloom in the World – The ‘Moy Grande’ Hibiscus – obviously had to begin with Mr. Moy coming to San Antonio. Mr. Moy - he preferred to be called "Mr." rather than "Dr." - first came to the San Antonio Botanical Garden in 1980. As Paul Cox relates the story, the immaculately dressed, distinguished-looking Mr. Moy actually interviewed for the position of City Agronomist. What he really wanted, though, was to work at the new Botanical Garden, even if the only position open was as a gardener.

Moy Grande Hibiscus with Gulf Fritillary butterfly
Moy Grande Hibiscus with Gulf Fritillary butterfly
Young Jeremy Parsons with Moy Grande Hibiscus
Young Jeremy Parsons with Moy Grande Hibiscus

After a brief tenure at the City Nursery in Brackenridge Park, Mr. Moy got his wish to come to the Botanical Garden.
In his years at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, this distinguished geneticist developed over 150 new species. The extensive list includes:

Papaya hybrids: Aromatic, Delicious, and Dulce; Ginger hybrids: Giant, Noble, and Robusta; Tecoma hybrids: Floribunda, Sunrise, and Sunset; Rose hybrids: Dwarf Beauty, Palace Pink, Red Lotus, and Shiny Wax; Chinese Hibiscus hybrids: over 57 varieties.

Paul Cox, Acting Superintendent in 1999, San Antonio Botanical Garden, wrote: “Moy embarked on a crossing campaign which included gingers, amaryllis, Bush Morning Glory (Ipomeas), roses, Tecomas, lantanas, Hibiscus (both rosa¬sinensis and mallows) and many more. Although many of his hybrids were worthy, the Hibiscus led to Moy's greatest recognition. In the early 1990’s, Dr. Parsons and Greg Grant were discussing Mr. Moy’s plant crosses and wondered if any of them could be commercialized. Greg Grant, after considering all of Mr. Moy’s creations, made the comment: “Mr. Moy has a Hibiscus with the largest flower I have ever seen.” That statement started the whole project.
12-14 inch Moy Grande Hibiscus compared to regular 8-10 inch Hibiscus
12-14 inch Moy Grande Hibiscus
compared to regular 8-10 inch Hibiscus
Moy Grande Hibiscus
Moy Grande Hibiscus

The first step in this project was to get Mr. Moy’s to giving cuttings of the Hibiscus for propagation purposes. At times, Mr. Moy was difficult to communicate with so we requested Paul Cox to explain what we wanted to do and get permission to get cuttings. Paul Cox wrote: “Dr. Parsons had been a long-time supporter of Moy's efforts, and Moy considered him his "Number One Friend." Dr. Parsons recognized the potential of Moy's products. Dr. Parsons and Greg Grant picked one especially nice hibiscus cross and promoted it as "the largest open face flower in the world." Parsons named it the ‘Moy Grande.’”

In the early 1990’s, cuttings were obtained, rooted in the Peterson Brother’s Greenhouses in San Antonio, Texas, and two 300-foot rows were planted at the Verstuyft Farms near Von Ormy, Texas. For several years, nurserymen from all over the state and beyond, could come to the Verstuyft Farms and get cuttings to root and sell. Within a few years, there were enough plants available to sell so we could do a statewide promotion.

Moy Grande Hibiscus compared to Mucho Mas Moy Grande Hibiscus
Moy Grande Hibiscus
compared to Mucho Mas Moy Grande Hibiscus
Moy with Mucho Mas Moy Grando
Moy with Mucho Mas Moy Grando

The ‘Moy Grande’ Hibiscus was designated a Texas’ SuperStar plant in the SUMMER (June-July) , '2000 --- BIG BLOOMERS FOR SUMMER BEAUTY Perennial Hibiscus -- Moy Grande (rose)

Began statewide trialing in 1998 and had San Antonio trial promotion in 1995 and 1996. The San Antonio Botanical Garden made the ‘Moy Grande’ flower its logo with the tips of its pedals in the shape of the Alamo.

Botanical Garden Logo

Mr. Moy’s project to produce a perennial hibiscus flower big enough to satisfy the Texas brag was the one that brought his research and development program at the San Antonio Botanical Garden worldwide fame. Mr. Moy cross-bred a Hibiscus moscheutos hybrid with Hibiscus grandiflorus to create the largest, open-face hibiscus flower in the world - the second largest flower IN THE WORLD. The phenomenon of hybrid vigor (the offspring is superior to either parent) resulted in huge, rose-pink flowers of the variety named in honor of its creator, ‘Moy Grande’ (Be careful not to say the name too fast or would be bilingual, politically correct experts may want to correct your pronunciation to the Hispanic version Muy Grande which means "very large". Obviously, these folks are just bilingual (English and Spanish) and not trilingual (English, Spanish AND Chinese!)). Hibiscus moscheutos 'Southern Belle', which usually has 8 inch diameter blooms, was cross bred with Hibiscus grandiflorus, which usually has 10 inch blooms, to create Moy Grande which has 12-inch blooms.




Dr. Dave Creech, Director, SFA Gardens, Nacogdoches, Texas in 2012, wrote:

“A few years ago I visited a nursery in the mountains near Ninghai, China. It was a beautiful spot. The day was cloudy and cool for the trek - and recent rains had left the forest and field dripping with dew. While looking over fields of small trees and shrubs I ran into a large plot of 'Moy Grande' hibiscus in bloom, a huge surprise. Professor Yin Yunlong, my counterpart and partner at the Nanjing Botanical Garden, picked up ‘Moy Grande’ during one of his visits to Nacogdoches, Texas, about three years ago in 2009. At Zhang’s nursery, it’s now multiplied by cuttings into the tens of thousands. It is now in his fold out nursery brochure. The plants looked gorgeous. I soon learned that the big flower had become popular in areas near the coast . . not just for the flower, but because the plant had "good tolerance" to salt. Mr. Moy's cross made it happen. “

- Dr. Dave Creech, Director, SFA Gardens, Nacogdoches, Texas in 2012

Hibiscus Moy Grande at Nanjing Forestry University
Hibiscus Moy Grande at Nanjing Forestry University
Hibiscus Moy Grande near Lin Hai China June 09, 2007
Hibiscus Moy Grande near Lin Hai China June 09, 2007
 


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