Create Your Garden

Rose of Sharon: How to Grow and Care with Success

Hibiscus syriacus, Syrian hibiscus, Althea, Shrub Althea

Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus, Hibiscus syriacus, Syrian hibiscus, Althea, Shrub Althea

What is Rose of Sharon?

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is a deciduous flowering shrub that is native to Asia. It is a member of the hibiscus family and is also known as Syrian hibiscus or shrub althea.

Appearance: It is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 8-12 feet (2.4-3.6 meters) tall and 6-10 feet (1.8-3 meters) wide.

Flowers: The plant produces large, showy flowers that are 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) in diameter. The flowers come in a range of colors, including white, pink, purple, blue, and red, with a distinctive central stamen.

Foliage: The leaves are green and heart-shaped, with a serrated edge.

Hardiness: Rose of Sharon is usually hardy in USDA zones 5-9 and can withstand cold winter temperatures as low as -20°F (-28.9°C). In areas subjected to harsh winters and snow, it will die back to the ground in winter, coming back in the spring.

Uses: Rose of Sharon is a popular landscaping plant due to its beautiful flowers and low maintenance requirements. It can be used as a hedge, screen, or accent plant.

Deer: Rose of Sharon is generally considered to be deer-resistant. However, it’s important to note that no plant is completely deer-proof, and deer may occasionally browse on it if other food sources are scarce.

Folklore: In some cultures, Rose of Sharon is considered a symbol of fertility, love, and abundance. In the Bible, it is mentioned as a symbol of beauty and perfection.

Why should I Grow a Rose of Sharon?

There are several reasons why you may want to consider growing this shrub:

Attractive flowers: It produces large, showy flowers with a unique funnel shape and a prominent central stamen, making them a beautiful addition to any garden or landscape.

Low maintenance: It is a relatively low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow. It can tolerate drought and heat and is generally resistant to pests and diseases.

Long blooming season: It blooms from mid-summer to early fall, producing hundreds of flowers during this time. This makes it a great choice for adding color and interest to your garden during the late summer and early fall months.

Attracts pollinators: The flowers are rich in nectar and pollen, which attract pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. This can help support these important species and contribute to a healthy ecosystem.

Versatility: It can be grown as a shrub, tree, or hedge, making it a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of landscaping applications.

Guide Information

Hardiness 5 - 9
Climate Zones 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1
Plant Type Perennials, Shrubs
Genus Hibiscus
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid, Late)
Fall
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Deer
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Wall-Side Borders, Hedges And Screens, Beds And Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Coastal Garden, Informal and Cottage
Hibiscus syriacus ‘Oiseau Bleu’ (Rose of Sharon)
Hibiscus syriacus First Editions® Fiji™ (Rose of Sharon)
Hibiscus syriacus First Editions® French Cabaret™ Red (Rose of Sharon)

When to Plant Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon can be planted in either spring or fall, depending on your climate and growing conditions. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Spring planting: In areas with cold winters, it’s best to wait until after the last frost to plant Rose of Sharon in the spring. This is usually in late April or early May. Planting in the spring allows the plant to establish its roots during the growing season and be better prepared for the following winter.
  • Fall planting: In areas with mild winters, it can be planted in the fall after the weather has cooled down and before the first frost. This is usually in late September or early October. Planting in the fall allows the plant to establish its roots before going dormant for the winter and can result in better growth and flowering in the following season.

Where to Plant Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon can be planted in a variety of locations, but it prefers a site with the following characteristics:

  • Full sun: The plant needs at least six hours of direct sunlight each day to produce its best flowers. It can tolerate some shade, but too much shade can result in fewer blooms and weaker growth.
  • Well-draining soil: It prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. It does not like to be waterlogged or sit in standing water.
  • Protection from wind: Rose of Sharon has a shallow root system and can be vulnerable to wind damage. It should be planted in a protected location, such as near a building or a windbreak.
  • Adequate space: This shrub can grow up to 8-12 feet (2.4-3.6 meters) tall and 6-10 feet (1.8-3 meters) wide, so it needs adequate space to grow and spread. It should not be planted too close to buildings, fences, or other plants.
  • Climate: Most plants are hardy in USDA zones 5-9, which means they can tolerate some cold temperatures but may not survive in extremely cold or hot climates.

How to Plant Rose of Sharon

Here are the steps for planting Rose of Sharon:

  • Choose a location: Select a planting site that receives full sun, has well-draining soil, and is protected from the wind. Ensure that there is adequate space for the plant to grow and spread.
  • Prepare the soil: Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball and just as deep. Add compost or other organic matter to the soil to improve drainage and fertility.
  • Plant the shrub: Gently remove the Rose of Sharon from its container and place it in the hole. The top of the root ball should be level with the soil surface. Backfill the hole with soil and gently press it down around the base of the plant. Water thoroughly.
Hibiscus syriacus ‘Ardens’ (Rose of Sharon)
Hibiscus syriacus ‘Marina’ (Rose of Sharon)
Hibiscus syriacus First Editions® Bali™ (Rose of Sharon)

Rose of Sharon Care

Here are some tips for caring for your hardy hibiscus:

  • Watering: Rose of Sharon prefers well-draining soil that is kept evenly moist but not waterlogged. Water deeply and regularly during the establishment period and then as needed throughout the growing season. In periods of drought or extreme heat, water more frequently to prevent the plant from becoming stressed.
  • Fertilizing: Fertilize Rose of Sharon in the spring with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to promote growth and flowering. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can result in excessive foliage growth at the expense of flowers. Organic fertilization can also be a good option for those who want to avoid synthetic chemicals in their garden. Apply a layer of compost around the base of the plant in the spring. Compost is a rich source of organic matter that provides the plant with the nutrients it needs to grow and bloom.
  • Pruning: Prune Rose of Sharon in late winter or early spring (rose of Sharon blooms on new wood) to remove any dead or damaged wood and to shape the plant as desired. Pruning can also help promote flowering and control the size of the shrub. Avoid heavy pruning, as this can reduce flowering in the following season.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Keep the mulch away from the trunk of the shrub to prevent rot.
  • Winter care: Rose of Sharon is hardy in USDA zones 5-9, but in areas with severe winters, it may benefit from additional protection like wrapping with burlap or covering with a protective cloth. Remove any dead or damaged wood in the spring to promote new growth.
Hibiscus syriacus First Editions® Fiji™ (Rose of Sharon)
Hibiscus syriacus First Editions® Hawaii™ (Rose of Sharon)
Hibiscus syriacus First Editions® Tahiti™ (Rose of Sharon)

Companion Plants for your Hibiscus

Hibiscus syriacus can be complemented with a variety of companion plants that can provide contrasting foliage, texture, or color. Here are some companion plants that work well with it:

Ornamental grasses: Grasses like Miscanthus or Panicum can provide a nice contrast to the bold foliage and flowers of Rose of Sharon.

Daylilies: Daylilies are easy-to-grow perennials that come in a wide range of colors and can complement the flowers of Rose of Sharon.

Coneflowers: Coneflowers (Echinacea) are native plants that attract butterflies and other pollinators, and their flowers provide a nice contrast to the large, showy flowers of Rose of Sharon.

Forsythia: Rose of Sharon and Forsythia can make good companion plants in the garden, as they have complementary blooming periods and provide a range of colors and textures throughout the growing season.

Hydrangea: Hydrangeas and Rose of Sharon have similar growth habits and flower at the same time, making them good companion plants for a mixed border or hedge.

Lilac: Lilacs (Syringa) have a similar blooming period, and both provide showy flowers.

Phlox: Phlox (Phlox paniculata) bloom at a similar time, with their vibrant colors complementing the Rose of Sharon’s blooms.

ViburnumViburnums have attractive foliage and flowers and can also help to attract pollinators to the garden.

Overall, the choice of companion plants for Rose of Sharon depends on your personal preference and the growing conditions in your garden. By selecting plants with contrasting foliage, texture, or color, you can create a beautiful and diverse landscape that enhances the beauty of your hibiscus.

Hibiscus syriacus Lavender Chiffon® (Rose of Sharon)
Hibiscus syriacus Pink Chiffon® (Rose of Sharon)
Hibiscus syriacus Ultramarine (Rose of Sharon)

How to Propagate

Hibiscus syriacus can be propagated by several methods, including stem cuttings, layering, and seed. Here are some steps for propagating Rose of Sharon by stem cuttings:

  • Timing: Take stem cuttings in the late summer or early fall when the plant is actively growing.
  • Select a healthy stem: Choose a stem that is about 6-8 inches long and has several sets of leaves. The stem should be green and pliable but not too soft or woody.
  • Prepare the cutting: Remove the lower leaves from the stem, leaving only a few sets of leaves at the top. Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone to promote root growth.
  • Plant the cutting: Plant the cutting in a well-draining potting mix, making sure the cut end is buried about 1-2 inches deep (2-5 cm). Water the cutting well.
  • Provide the right environment: Place the pot in a warm, humid location with bright, indirect light. Cover the pot with a plastic bag or dome to help retain moisture and humidity.
  • Monitor the cutting: Check the cutting regularly for signs of growth and water as needed to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
  • Transplant: After the cutting has rooted and established new growth, transplant it to a larger container or into the garden.

Pest and Diseases

Rose of Sharon is generally a disease-resistant plant, but it can be susceptible to certain pests and diseases. Here are some common pests and diseases to watch out for:

Aphids: Aphids can cause distorted growth and a sticky residue on the leaves of Rose of Sharon. Insecticidal soap or neem oil can help control aphids.

Gray mold: Gray mold, also known as botrytis blight, is a fungal disease that typically appears as grayish-brown spots on the leaves and stems of the plant and can cause the flowers to rot and die. Improve air circulation, avoid overhead watering, remove infected parts, or use fungicides if the gray mold is severe.

Japanese beetles: These pests can skeletonize the leaves of Rose of Sharon and cause significant damage. Handpicking or using a natural insecticide like neem oil can help control Japanese beetles.

Powdery mildew: Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that can cause a white, powdery coating on the leaves and flowers of the Rose of Sharon. Avoid overhead watering and prune any infected branches to help control powdery mildew.

Whiteflies: Whiteflies can cause damage to the plant by sucking out sap from the leaves, which can lead to wilting and yellowing. Control whiteflies by watering regularly, using insecticidal soap, hanging yellow sticky traps, applying neem oil, encouraging natural predators, and pruning affected branches.

Hibiscus syriacus Lil’ Kim® Violet (Rose of Sharon)
Hibiscus syriacus Orchid Satin® (Rose of Sharon)
Hibiscus syriacus Sugar Tip® (Rose of Sharon)

Is Rose of Sharon Invasive?

Hibiscus syriacus is a prolific seeder and is listed in the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States. It is currently reported invasive in KY, PA, TN, and VA. Avoid unwanted volunteer seedlings by planting sterile cultivars.

Find where this species is invasive in the United States.

Discover beautiful U.S. native plant alternatives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is rose of Sharon a tree or bush?

Rose of Sharon is generally considered a bush or small tree. It is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 8-12 feet (2.4-3.6 meters) tall and 6-10 feet (1.8-3 meters) wide, depending on the variety.

Is hibiscus and rose of Sharon the same thing?

Rose of Sharon is a species of hibiscus. Its botanical name is Hibiscus syriacus.

Do rose of Sharon need sun or shade?

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) grows best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers at least 6 hours of sunlight a day but can tolerate some shade during the hottest part of the day. In hot climates, Rose of Sharon can benefit from afternoon shade to protect it from intense sunlight and heat. However, too much shade can lead to reduced flower production and leggy growth.

When to prune rose of Sharon?

The best time to prune Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is in the late winter or early spring before new growth appears. Pruning at this time will encourage the plant to produce new growth and flowers for the upcoming season.

Click here to compare all Hibiscus syriacus varieties

Garden Examples

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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 5 - 9
Climate Zones 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1
Plant Type Perennials, Shrubs
Genus Hibiscus
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid, Late)
Fall
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Deer
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Wall-Side Borders, Hedges And Screens, Beds And Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Coastal Garden, Informal and Cottage
Compare All Hibiscus
Compare Now
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Hibiscus
Guides with
Hibiscus

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