Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Rose of Sharon

This is the deal. You want this shrub! It is often overlooked because it gets such a late start. But hold onto your starburst, it's going to amaze you.Rose of Sharon is in the hibiscus syriacus family. (Althaea) What does all that mean? Nothing, except it makes me sound smart. Basically this shrub is a hibiscus! Just look at the flower blossom and you can tell. Like other types of hibiscus, Rose of Sharon's flowers bear a striking stamen (that tongue like thing in the center). Hibiscus plants look very tropical. I think many people assume that because of our Utah winters, Rose of Sharon wouldn't make it here. But don't be deceived! I have heard that some people make Rose of Sharon into a hedge. But it doesn't seem like a good idea to me. Because it is deciduous, it would only provide privacy from July to September. I have a Rose of Sharon "tree," and it has been through dorky deer, nasty winters and neglect. ("Tree" hibiscus really are just "shrub" hibiscus shaped into trees, but it does sound impressive, right?) If you want to try to make that "tree" Rose of Sharon, start the pruning process during its first two years in the ground. Rose of Sharon does great with pruning, so you can prune it to whatever shape you desire. Even Espalier. Look at the picture below. Isn't that wild? (The picture is of an apple tree, but you get the idea.)Growing Guide- This shrub wants sun. If it gets a moderate amount of shade it will look very spindly, yellow and either not bloom or bloom hardly at all. In the shade this shrub can get a fungal disease. The point: Don't put Rose of Sharon in the shade! After this shrub is established it is also fairly drought tolerant. It hates standing water, so your soil must drain well. It can tolerate slightly alkaline soil. (If you are concerned about that, comment me for information.) Honestly, you will love how easy this shrub is to grow. The only thing that bugs me about Rose of Sharon is when its blossoms drop. There are so many of them, they seem like litter. But I think the trade-off is well worth it. But watch out, Rose of Sharon can self sow--meaning that if the ground below it is fertile, the blossoms can grow little baby shrubs. Also, the flowers grow on "new wood." So do all of your pruning in the fall. It's biggest threats are aphids, but those are easily treated. I have also heard that Japanese beetles like Rose of Sharon, but I have not seen that myself. Nor have I heard it in Utah, yet. Once again, I use a simple time-release fertilizer on my Rose of Sharon once a month. Although one year I didn't do anything, and it did fine.
This is the color of my Rose of Sharon
One of the best things about Rose of Sharon is that it blooms for a very long time. It also has profuse blooming. You will be wowed at how many blooms will be on this shrub. It also blooms late into the fall. As other perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs are turning yellow and closing up for winter, Rose of Sharon will love the cool weather and continue to bloom. This shrub will attract butterflies and humming birds, which is a plus for me. In the spring, this shrub will be the last in your yard to get leaves. You will think it is dead! Don't give up on it. Mid-summer, Rose of Sharon will finally wake up ready for work, and stay later than the rest. Most Rose of Sharon bushes can get 8-10' tall and have a spread of 4-6'. Blossoms come in TONS of colors: white, red, lavender and light blue. Some even have double blooms. Most Rose of Sharon bushes have small, light green leaves.Have I talked you into it?


  1. I love my Roses of Sharon. I have a hedge right alongside my deck and it does provide privacy here in Jersey from May through October. Blossoms finally starting opening in August, but they are profuse. I also have three in my flowerbed adding height. Here in Jersey I fight Japanese Beetles like crazy. I pick them of my Roses of Sharon anytime I go outside - it just became a habit. I have not fertilized or pruned any of my Roses of Sharon for as long as I have had them - between 30 years and 3 years and only this year, does the 30 year old shrub start to look like it might need some help. I love them, very carefree and beautiful.

  2. hi there. thanks so much for your informative blog! how do i get my rose of sharon (currently around 3ft high by 1ft wide) to look like the tree form ROS that is shown in the last picture of your blog? although i do not want it that girthy, i would like it to have a substantial trunk before it overwhelms me with a profusion of its gorgeous double light blue/lavender flowers! thanks so much!

  3. How do make starts from my HUGE bush, so I may have several of these bushes in my yard?

  4. The tree looks absolutely beautiful and I'm sure that when you wave your wand through it, but simply shine! I always enjoy coming to - crazy lately. its beautiful front door wreath .. love it!

    Rose Of Sharon Varieties

  5. My ROS used to have bigger leaves. They are very small now. Does this indicate not enough sunlight?