Learn about rose of sharon, including how to plant and grow them.
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How to Grow: Rose of Sharon
Bloom Period and Seasonal Color
Mid-summer to fall in colors such as white, pink, blue, lilac, red and bicolor
Mature Height x Spread
8 to 10 feet x 6 to 8 feet
attracts beneficials, attracts, hummingbirds, deer resistant
Rose of Sharon is a rare shrub because it blooms from mid to late summer to fall when few other shrubs are in flower. It has beautiful, large, single or double cup-shaped flowers in a range of bright colors. The large, vase-shaped shrub is quick growing and has many vertical stems that are often covered with flowers in late summer making for a striking show. Rose of Sharon is a low maintenance shrub that leaves out late in spring, so don’t worry if it’s still bare when other shrubs are growing. Since it’s big show is late in the growing season, Rose of Sharon is often paired with other earlier blooming full sun loving shrubs to provide continuous color.
When, Where and How to Plant
Rose of Sharon is hardy to zone 5, so will need winter protection in colder areas. Purchase plants from local garden centers and plant from spring to early fall in well-drained, fertile soil. The sunniest and hottest location produces the most flowers. Space plants 4 to 6 feet apart.
Rose of Sharon is tolerant of many soil types. Water plants well and mulch with wood chips or bark to keep the soil moist and weed free. Fertilize in spring with a layer of compost and an organic plant food.
Regional Advice and Care
Rose of Sharon blooms on new shoots formed in spring. Prune in spring to remove dead, diseased, broken or winter injured branches. Prune to shape the shrub and encourage more new growth. In colder areas, drive four stakes around the shrub and wrap burlap around the stakes to break the drying winds. Protect the plant from insects, such as spider mites and aphids, with sprays insecticidal soap and from diseases by mulching around the plant and cleaning up fallen leaves well in autumn. Rose of Sharon can spread by seed so is considered invasive in some areas. Consider purchasing varieties with sterile seed.
Companion Planting and Design
Rose of Sharon looks great planted in a shrub border with forsythia, lilac, viburnum and other shrubs with complimentary bloom times. It also can be planted in a hedgerow to block an unsightly view. Avoid planting it as a specimen plant in the lawn since it will have little interest for much of the summer.
‘Aphrodite’ has a pink flower with a dark red eyespot in the center and doesn’t produce viable seeds. ‘Bluebird’ is an older variety with blue flowers with a reddish base. ‘Diana’ produces large white flowers that don’t produce viable seeds. ‘Tricolor’ has unusual double, pink, red, and purple flowers on the same plant. ‘Minerva’ is a heavy blooming lavender-colored flowered variety with a pink eye. The shrub is smaller that many other varieties only growing to 5 to 8 feet tall.
Excerpted from my book, New England Getting Started Garden Guide.
Common names for plants can be tricky. Take the Rose of Sharon, for example. Depending on the plant it’s a biblical bulb grown in Israel, an evergreen shrub in Europe, or a deciduous shrub that’s the national flower of South Korea and means immortality. That’s the one I want to talk about.
Hibiscus syriacus gives you the beauty of the tropical hibiscus flower in a shrub that’s hardy to zone 5. I really love this plant because it flowers in mid summer when few other shrubs are blooming. The plant is slow to leaf out in spring, but produces single or double flowers that hummingbirds love in colors ranging from white to lavender. It likes the heat and will keep blooming for weeks into August.
Grow Rose of Sharon in a well-drained spot in full sun. Give it room. Most varieties grow to 8 to 12 feet tall and 6 feet wide, making it an excellent hedge plant. It’s best to select newer sterile varieties such as ‘Minerva’, because older varieties produce a ton of viable seed and the plant can become invasive. Oh, and not only is the flower beautiful, it’s edible too!
Now for this week’s tip, speaking of weird things to eat, got any extra sunflower buds around? Harvest sunflower flower buds before they open, steam them, serve them with melted butter and viola, you have the poor man’s version of the artichoke.