How to Grow and Care for Rose of Sharon

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Botanically named Hibiscus syriacus, the rose of Sharon represents an excellent flower to bring into your summer garden. It can decorate any landscape with its attractive blooms in various shades of white, pink, and purple. Many beneficial insects and birds can be drawn to the beautiful rose of Sharon flowers as well. As this is a type of hibiscus, you can expect its flower to have a distinctively prominent stamen.

The fact that in some regions this plant tends to bloom in late summer can be considered an advantage. You can use it strategically to take over once other flowering shrubs have finished their blooming periods. Although the name ‘syriacus’ seems to imply a Syrian origin, the rose of Sharon is actually a native of China and India. It’s considered a deciduous shrub that can reach heights of around 9 to 10 feet.

1. Growing Requirements

Rose of Sharon plants are very easy to grow and they can often thrive with neglect. The shrub is adapted for hardiness zones 5 to 9 and can reseed abundantly. You might have the opposite problem as new plants can appear in unwanted locations. To grow the rose of Sharon successfully, it’s essential to provide it with moist, well-drained soil. That’s one of the main growing requirements.

Rose of Sharon plants like to get full sun exposure and rich soils will encourage proper bloom development. A bit of shade can be tolerated, but this shrub can be sensitive to fungal damage in conditions other than full sun. It’s not relevant for the rose of Sharon to get a certain type of soil as it can thrive in different sites. Even though slightly acidic rich soils are ideal, flowers can still tolerate areas with soil that’s poor in nutrients. Fertilization can be necessary initially to get the rose of Sharon properly established in poor soil.

When it comes to water needs, it’s worth noting that rose of Sharon shrubs are adapted to face prolonged dry spells. While it does thrive in moist conditions, you can also overdo it with the irrigation and damage the plant. If the leaves turn yellow, it’s most likely an issue of overwatering. Rose of Sharon enjoys hot temperatures so it can be considered ideal for Southern US regions. Many growers appreciate its overall hardiness as the plant can also withstand air pollution and high humidity.

2. Maintenance

Although there’s minimal maintenance involved when growing rose of Sharon plants, you should be aware of the importance of pruning. It’s highly recommended to give this beautiful shrub a more desirable shape and increase the value it brings to the landscape. When left to its natural growth patterns, the rose of Sharon tends to produce multiple trunks. You can train it through pruning to have a single stem if you prefer the look of a small tree instead.

Gardeners should prune this flower in early spring or sometimes late winter if the climate environment allows it. While you can try shaping older rose of Sharon plants, it’s recommended to deal with this maintenance procedure during the first two growing seasons. Depending on your landscaping goals, this plant can be trained to grow against a supporting structure using the espalier technique.

There are a few pest issues that you have to watch out for when growing rose of Sharon. Shrubs can be affected by Japanese beetles though the damage is minor if you can spot the infestation before it spreads too much. That shouldn’t be a difficult job considering the large size of this type of beetle. The pests can be removed by hand or shaken off without a lot of effort.

3. Propagation

If you’re interested in propagating rose of Sharon bushes, the most effective method is to rely on stem cuttings. Start by removing thin branches of the plant that have some leaves. Stems should be kept to a length of around 5 inches. The end of the stem needs to be clean of leaves and placed in rooting hormone. Now your stem cutting is ready for planting in a pot. Care for it by adding sufficient water and ensuring protection from full sun exposure. Indirect light seems to work best.

4. Landscaping Value

Rose of Sharon shrubs can have lots of landscaping applications. Besides using it as a specimen plant for its showy flowers, the rose of Sharon can make a reliable hedge plant. This is thanks to its versatility in terms of shaping. You can use it for privacy but it can only be effective in the summer season as this is not an evergreen plant. Many landscapers rely on the bush for privacy around swimming pools because they’re usually only used in the summer.

Foundation planting is another great use for a rose of Sharon. The shrub can be pruned annually without issues so this means it’s not difficult to control its growth. You shouldn’t worry about it overwhelming the house or the surrounding area in the yard. While there are many benefits to growing rose of Sharon plants, you shouldn’t overlook potential downsides. These shrubs can be messy sometimes considering the seed drops and the emergence of random sprouts that will need removal by hand. Self-seeding issues can be prevented by choosing cultivars that don’t produce seeds.


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