Rose Of Sharon: How To Grow and Care For Hibiscus Syriacus

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Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is a very beautiful, slow-growing, deciduous shrub producing luxuriant blooms during the summer when grown in warm climates.

Reaching a maximum height of 8′ to 12 feet tall and 6′ to 10 feet wide, it is an excellent choice as an ornamental privacy hedge from early spring through late summer.

blue flower of the Rose of Sharon treePin

This family Malvaceae member, Hibiscus Rose of Sharon hedge, is native to south-central and southeast China and is easy to grow and naturally resistant to most pests.

This makes it an excellent choice for newcomers to gardening.

With its lush tropical appearance and numerous varieties of blossom colors, it can provide a satisfying gardening experience even to the least experienced gardeners.

It is easy to plant Hibiscus syriacus bushes, also known as the shrub Althea to create a hedge comprised of large, showy flowers resembling hollyhock blossoms of all one colors or a mix-and-match collection of purples, blues, pinks, and various shades of white in midsummer to fall.

Hibiscus Syriacus Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Hibiscus Syriacus
  • Common Name(s): Rose Of Sharon
  • Synonyms: Althea, Shrub Althea, Hardy Hibiscus
  • Pronunciation: hai-bi-skuhs see-ree-a-kuhs
  • Family & Origin: Malvaceae family, native to south-central and southeast China
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: 5-9
  • Size: Can grow up to 8′ to 12 feet tall and 6′ to 10 feet wide
  • Flowering: Blooms large, showy flowers resembling hollyhock blossoms in midsummer to fall
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Humidity: 50%-70% humidity levels
  • Temperature: Prefers warm temperatures between 65 and 75 F
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Water: Regular watering, but avoid overwatering
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize in spring with a 10-10-10 fertilizer
  • Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to aphids, japanese beetles, thrips, and fungal diseases
  • Propagation: Can be propagated through seeds, layering or taking cuttings.
  • Plant Uses: Ornamental shrub, can be used as a hedge or specimen plant in the landscape.

In this article, we will review the steps necessary for the successful planting and care of the delightful Rose of Sharon plant. Read on to learn more.

Where Will You Plant It?

Before you purchase your new bush or bushes, you should be certain that you have an ideal location. Roses of Sharon does best in full sun.

However, it can do well with partial shade and prefers 50%-70% humidity levels.

The ideal temperature for this plant ranges between 65° and 75° degrees Fahrenheit.

You should have plenty of room for planting Rose of Sharon shrub to grow because these plants like to spread.

Each one needs at least 6′ feet of space around it to allow ample room for expansion.

Remember, Roses of Sharon can be propagated via seeds, layering or taking cuttings.

Be Ready To Dig A Big Hole!

In addition to the aboveground space, your Hibiscus syriacus will need adequate space in the soil for the roots to expand.

You need to be able to dig a $10 hole for each bush that is as deep as the pot your plant comes in. It should also be two or three times as wide as that pot.

This tropical Hibiscus bush cousin wants its feet in well-drained soil. Check out the differences between the Rose of Sharon and Hibiscus.

Dig a big hole and make sure to have plenty of loose, nourishing soil on hand to fill in the hole.

The soil (always improve poor soil) you surround the roots of your beautiful young shrubs with should be a combination of the native soil you removed and quality, light compost that will nourish your new bush and provide for proper root aeration.

The rose can also be grown as an outdoor potted tree for the patio.

How To Plant Rose Of Sharon?

And… when to plant the Hibiscus syriacus.

Once you have your location selected and your hole prepared, you are ready to plant your shrub.

Begin by gently tapping the sides of the pot your plant is planted in.

You can tap it on the outside with a hammer or mallet, or you can tap the container against the ground to loosen the root ball. [source]

Remove your flowering shrub from its container carefully. You may need to pry it out using a small trowel. Do not pull it out by the trunk, as this can damage the plant and the roots.

Massage the root ball to loosen up the roots so that they will have a better chance of taking hold once your shrub has been transplanted.

If the roots seem to be knotted and twisted, they are root-bound. You may need to trim them a bit to give them the best start.

Place the young plant in the prepared hole and fill the hole with water.

Wait until the water has been completely absorbed by your plant and the surrounding soil before you begin adding soil to the hole.

Use your prepared soil mixture to fill the hole completely.

Tamp the soil down gently, being careful not to compact it. The surface of the soil should feel firm but not hard.

Give your new bush another complete soaking and add more soil as needed to be certain that the roots are covered to the level that they were in their original pot.

Protect The Roots With Mulch

Add a thick layer of mulch all around your new foliage. Be certain the mulch completely covers the hole you have dug.

You may wish to extend your layer of mulch a bit further to give more protection to the soil surrounding your new bush.

Mulch will hold moisture into the soil and help protect the roots from freezing during the wintertime.

Leave a little space around the trunk of your new bush to allow for good air circulation.

If the mulch is pressed right against the stem or trunk, it will contribute to rotting and will kill your new addition. [source]

Hibiscus Syriacus Care

Be sure to check the soil around your new planting several times a week early on.

You may need to water two or three times weekly at first to keep the soil moist and give your new plant a good start in life.

Maintain a balance. Although your new addition will need regular watering, be careful not to overdo it.

As with most plants, excessive watering causes root rot. When your shrub is established, a deep watering once a week should be ample.

Good drainage is essential to good plant growth. If you find that water is pooling around your plant, you may wish to amend your soil with peat moss.

This will help lighten the soil and contributes to good aeration.

pink flower of the Rose of Sharon treePin

Follow These Steps For Growing Rose Of Sharon On An Ongoing Basis:

  1. Till the soil lightly and add a healthy dose of compost every spring. You should extend the layer of compost so that it is even with the drip line of your plant. The drip line is the edge of the branch tips where the rain falls upon the soil. Taking these steps will help maintain good soil aeration while helping to nourish the soil. If you wish, you may also add Rose of Sharon fertilizer or 10-10-10 fertilizer; however, compost should provide ample nutrition.
  2. When your compost layer is in place, top it off with 2 inches of mulch. Cover the new compost layer completely, and remember to be careful not to allow the mulch to come in contact with the trunk of your bush. Mulch will help hold moisture in the soil and will deter weeds.
  3. Give these hardy hibiscus bushes a deep, weekly watering throughout the summer months. You can skip this if your area has received at least an inch of rain within the week. Remember, it is better to give all bushes and shrubs a deep, weekly soaking with a trickle of water rather than light daily spraying. A deep soaking once a week encourages more blooms. A soaker or drip hose makes deep watering easy.
  4. Watch out for “bud drop.” If your plant begins dropping blossoms and leaves prematurely, you will know that you are not watering correctly. Frequent shallow watering or excessive watering can cause blossoms to drop.
  5. Understand that spent blossoms are different than bud drops. Naturally, blossoms will begin to fade as they have lived out their lives. Be sure to deadhead (pick off) these spent blossoms to make room for new blooms. Regular deadheading of Hibiscus will extend the bloom time.
  6. Don’t allow your Rose of Sharon hibiscus tree to go to seed. Be sure to cut back unwanted blooms before they have had a chance to produce seeds. Otherwise, your bushes could become invasive. Hibiscus syriacus is an enthusiastic grower and is very likely to reproduce enthusiastically on its own unless you keep it in check.
  7. Time your Hibiscus pruning to suit your preferences. If you prune Hibiscus syriacus in the autumn, just before winter, and prune back severely, you will encourage larger blooms in the spring. If you prefer lots of small flowers, prune lightly in the springtime.
  8. Remove dead, broken, and/or damaged branches. No matter what pruning style you choose, be sure to remove nonproductive branches. This will encourage air circulation and allow sunlight to reach your plant uniformly. NOTE: Remove branches damaged by fungus or disease as soon as you notice them, no matter what time of year. Dispose of them properly by throwing them away in the trash or burning them. Do not compost them, as this will only spread disease.
  9. Replenish your layer of mulch again in the autumn. This will help prepare your plant for the winter months. Extremely cold weather can kill off branches above the ground.
  10. If this happens, prune your bush all the way back to the ground in the spring. You will soon see new shoots growing from your established roots. [source]

Rose Of Sharon Winter Care

Once your plants are established, you can count on them to provide a glorious display as a patio tree throughout the summer months, even in some challenging conditions.

Rose of Sharon trees is hardy throughout USDA hardiness zone 5B through 9A. It can tolerate both cold winters and drought conditions with ease.

If you follow the instructions presented here, you shouldn’t have any worries regarding your Hibiscus syriacus in the wintertime.

Indeed, these hardy plants often make it through late winter without any special care at all.

If your area is subject to extremely harsh winters, you may wish to wrap your bushes with burlap when a hard freeze is expected.

Pests To Watch Out For

Hibiscus syriacus is generally pest-resistant, but sometimes Japanese beetles can be a problem.

If this happens, dust the plant with natural diatomaceous earth. This will help eliminate a Japanese beetle infestation.

Aphids also attack Rose of Sharon plants and begin to suck the plant juices with their piercing and sucking mouthparts. Hibiscus and thrips can be an issue as well.

In Conclusion

Rose of Sharon is a remarkably resilient and easy-to-grow deciduous shrub.

In fact, when conditions are ideal, this plant is evergreen, and it can easily become invasive.

In less-than-ideal conditions, simple steps to place the plant well and provide good drainage, light nourishment, and protection against extreme cold will result in successfully growing this delightful shrub.

Rose of Sharon flowers come in a variety of shades of blue, violet, pink, mauve, red, and white.

They are a treat for the eye and beneficial for butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

Whether you are new to gardening or an old hand, you are sure to find Hibiscus syriacus to be a successful, easy-care addition to your yard or garden.

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