By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Rose of Sharon is a hardy, deciduous shrub that produces big, hollyhock-like blooms when most blooming shrubs are winding down in late summer and early autumn. The downside is that this hibiscus cousin doesn’t make a great focal point because it’s rather uninteresting for much of the season and may not even leaf out until June if temperatures are chilly.
One way to get around this problem is to select plants that grow well with rose of Sharon, and there are many from which to choose. Read on for a few great rose of Sharon companion planting ideas.
Consider planting rose of Sharon in a hedge or border with evergreen or flowering shrubs that bloom at various times. That way, you’ll have glorious color all season. For example, you can always plant rose of Sharon amidst a variety of rose bushes for long-lasting color. Here are a few other suggestions
There are also a number of perennial companion plants for rose of Sharon shrubs. In fact, rose of Sharon looks fantastic in a bed where it serves as a backdrop for a variety of colorful blooming plants. So what to plant near rose of Sharon? Nearly any will work, but the following perennials are especially complementary when used for rose of Sharon companion planting:
Need some other plants that grow well with rose of Sharon? Try groundcovers. Low-growing plants do a great job of providing camouflage when the base of a rose of Sharon shrub gets a little bare.
This article was last updated on
Read more about Rose Of Sharon
About roses of sharon
Rose of Sharon flowers in late summer to fall when few other shrubs are in bloom. Flower colors include blue, pink, red, lavender, purple, and white, depending on the variety. Most varieties grow 8 to 12 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide. The plant shows good pollution tolerance, making it appropriate for urban gardens.
Special features of roses of sharon
Easy care/low maintenance
Choosing a site to grow roses of sharon
Select a site with full sun to light shade and moist, well-drained soil.
Plant in spring or fall. Space plants 6 to 10 feet apart, depending on the expected mature size of the plant. Dig a hole only as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide. If your soil is in very poor condition, amend the soil you've removed from the hole with a small amount of compost. Otherwise don't amend it at all. Carefully remove the plant from the container and set it in the hole. Fill the hole half full with soil, then water it well to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Let the water drain, then fill the remainder of hole with soil and water thoroughly.
Apply a layer of compost under the tree each spring, spreading it out to the dripline (the area under the outermost branches). Add a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Flowers are produced on new wood, so prune in early spring to shape and reduce size. Pruning the shrub back to 2 to 3 buds per branch in spring encourages larger flowers. Remove dead, diseased, and injured branches any time.
Beyond a fresh layer of mulch in spring, routine care includes pruning (if desired) in late winter or very early spring. Some gardeners cut their shrubs back very hard - to 3 or 4 buds per shoot -- to control overall size and encourage larger blooms. Others simply take the laissez faire route and let their shrubs grow into their natural shape. This latter approach encourages more, smaller blossoms. The plant blooms on the new wood of the current season -- summer trimming means that you'll lose out on flowers.
She's a hardy plant with gorgeous blossoms that needs little care -- what's not to love?
Barbara Martin is National Gardening Association's reporter for the Mid-Atlantic region. Maggie Oster also contributed to this article.
Photography by Barbara Martin/National Gardening Association
Breeders have developed some lovely flower colors -- white, pink, red, violet, and lavender-blue -- available in single or double forms. Rose of Sharon sports her blossoms, which resemble those of other members of the mallow family, from mid- to late summer. I especially like the blue ones, such as 'Blue Satin' (although to my eye they are still more blue-violet than true blue, except in soft early morning light). Many of the double-flowered types seem almost more like oversized rose trees, with eye-stopping, multi-layered crepe paper flowers. The white-flowered cultivars are perfect for an all white summer "moon garden," and the many pinks and purples work well among the pastels of English-style gardens.
Also, the U. S. National Arboretum has introduced new cultivars in recent years that are triploids. The flowers are large, but they don't set seeds, so blooms are produced over a long period. 'Diana' is among the best of these introductions, with pure white flowers that remain open at night. The foliage is a waxy and dark green. 'Aphrodite' has rose-pink petals that are red at the base. 'Helene' has white flowers with deep red centers with streaks forming many-pointed stars. 'Minerva' has lavender-pink flowers with a red center.
I first noticed the hardy shrub called Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) while traveling one midsummer across the southern plains. I saw it over and over again, blooming bravely in dooryard gardens despite the sizzling heat on the rough, wind-swept prairies. That's when I discovered that this large, summer-flowering shrub reliably brings pleasure and beauty, whatever the weather dishes out. That, to me, is the sign of a quality plant.
This native of Asia and India was introduced to the U.S. in 1790. Hardy in USDA Zones 5 through 8, Rose of Sharon thrives in full sun and isn't too fussy about soil, as long as it's not sodden or very dry. The vase-shaped shrub grows 8 to 12 feet tall and to 6 to 10 feet across, but can be pruned to a smaller stature. Many books suggest using Rose of Sharon in a shrub border rather than as a specimen plant in the yard, but I've noticed that those grown alone develop a much better shape than those crammed in a shrub border.
If you plant Rose of Sharon in fall, don't be dismayed in springtime if it looks dead while surrounding plants are busily sprouting away. The three-lobed leaves emerge quite late. I, for one, am willing to accept this quirk because of the shrub's contribution to the summer garden. There is nothing to equal its stately presence amidst the daylilies, coneflowers, reblooming clematis, and sweet peas, with butterflies and hummingbirds all around it. Not bad for a low-maintenance, workhorse of a shrub!
While some gardeners find its persistent, woody seed pods an asset in the winter landscape, many gardeners shun Rose of Sharon - at least the old fashioned type - for the prolific, weedy offspring. This group will be won over by recent introductions, including triploid and tetraploid varieties, that set little if any seed.
As for pest problems, there are few. Japanese beetles love Rose of Sharon, so be prepared with your favorite means of beetle avoidance, be it traps, repellents, or grub control.
Growing a Rose of Sharon hedge in Your Garden is an excellent way of creating a private garden area during the summer season. Changing the appearance of your garden can be easily done. Regardless of the size of your garden, you don’t have to spend more time, money, and effort in improving its appearance. With your knowledge about Rose of Sharon shrubs, your problem can be easily solved.
Like other homeowners, you shouldn’t miss to ignore the benefits of Rose of Sharon bushes. These are the common names of the different species of flowering plants, hardy hibiscus, hibiscus syriacus, and althea. They are one of the few shrubs that bloom in the summer garden. Compared to others, they are low maintenance and the Rose of Sharon shrubs can grow upward to 12 feet. Therefore, if you want the shrub to appear as a tree, just prune away the lower branches in early spring.
One of our favorite things about Rose of Sharon bushes is their appearances. Their flowers have beautifully distinct colors such as blue, red, pink, white, and purple. Most of these bushes also grow from 8 to 12 feet tall and roughly three to six feet wide though some varieties have a more columnar shape. Space your your plants according to their mature width. If your hibiscus bushes mature in the 4 foot width range, then spacing for a hedge would be approximately 3 to 3.5 feet apart for touching as they grow.
Hardy Hibiscus plants show good pollution tolerance which makes them a good choice for urban gardens.
Tips on growing Rose of Sharon hedges in your garden:
Prepare the Planting Site – You can do this through digging the hole approximately 4 to 6 inches deeper than the root system and about a foot wide. If you have clay soil, mix into the fill dirt aged compost or aged manure mix and some coarse sand for drainage.
Put the Rose of Sharon Shrubs in the Planting Hole – Do this step carefully, fill holes and water. You may need to add more soil around the plant and water it again if it settles too deeply.
Fertilizers – Fertilize can be applied in spring after the plant begins to leaf out. A balanced timed release is best. If using aged compost and aged manure mixes as mulch regularly, there should be no need for a fertilizer application.
With Rose of Sharon, you can easily change the appearance of your garden. Since these shrubs and flowers are easy to grow and maintain, you don’t have to monitor them regularly.
Greenwood Nursery offers a great selection of affordable Rose of Sharon plants. With their low prices and helpful customer service, it is easy for you to improve your garden.
Hibiscus syriacus, commonly referred to as althea or rose of Sharon, grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 5 through 9. The plant is classified as a shrub and flowers in a variety of colors, depending upon the variety. Rose of Sharon shrubs grow in full sun or shade, and reach heights of 8 to 10 feet. The shrub prefers moist, well-drained soil. Rose of Sharon is somewhat drought- and salt-tolerant, making it a good plant for coastal areas. Landscape with rose of Sharon in the home garden a variety of ways.
Create a wall of blooms by planting several rose of Sharon shrubs in a straight line. Space the shrubs at least 6 feet apart. The shrubs will fill in the empty space as they grow. You can use the shrubs to form a living privacy fence or as a backdrop to shorter plants.
Plant three rose of Sharon shrubs in a triangular pattern to form a focal point in the landscape. Choose shrubs with the same color blooms for a uniform appearance. Mulch around the rose of Sharon for a more finished look.
Add a rose of Sharon tree to an existing flower bed to add height. Train the shrub into tree form by eliminating all but the center trunk. Prune the canopy to about 2 feet from the ground. Keep the tree pruned each winter so the canopy blooms in the spring.
Bring color to hard-to-cultivate areas of the landscape with a potted rose of Sharon. Choose a colorful pot that is deep and has good drainage holes. You can set the potted plants on patios, decks or beside pools. This versatile shrub grows just about anywhere.
Julie Richards is a freelance writer from Ohio. She has been writing poetry and short stories for over 30 years, and published a variety of e-books and articles on gardening, small business and farming. She is currently enrolled at Kent State University completing her bachelor's degree in English.
Once established, Rose of Sharon bushes require little maintenance. Follow these guidelines for proper care to keep them looking and flowering their best:
By learning how to grow and care for Rose of Sharon hardy hibiscus, you can enjoy abundant summer blooms with little care. At Pennington, we're here for you with premium specialty fertilizers and expert advice for all the plants you grow. So relax, get growing and get ready for Rose of Sharon's summer show.
Always read product labels thoroughly and follow the instructions carefully.
UltraGreen is a registered trademark of Central Garden & Pet Company.
Pennington is a registered trademark of Pennington Seed, Inc.