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Looking for a big, showy flowering shrub to brighten your garden in the dog days of summer? Try rose of Sharon, which rewards minimal maintenance with lots of colorful blooms.
Many of our favorite ornamentals bloom in spring and early summer, but rose of Sharon flowers in the late summer and early fall when fewer plants are blooming. It attracts hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators—plus, it's easy to propagate.
Here's everything you need to know to grow rose of Sharon in your own garden.
- Botanical Name: Hibiscus syriacus
- Common Name: Rose of Sharon, rose of China, shrub althea
- Plant Type: Deciduous shrub
- Mature Size: Eight to 12 feet high and six to 10 feet wide
- Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
- Soil Type: Moist, well-drained soil
- Soil pH: 5.5 - 7.5
- Toxicity: Nontoxic to dogs, cats, and horses
To plant rose of Sharon, dig a hole as deep as the plant's root ball and two times as wide across. Remove the container, loosen the roots with your fingers, and place the root ball in the hole so that the plant's soil line is slightly higher than the ground. Replace the soil, pat down, and water well before mulching to hold soil moisture and prevent weeds.
Rose of Sharon is adaptable and drought tolerant, but it will produce showier blooms if deeply watered once per week during periods of no rain. Feed rose of Sharon in early spring with a potassium-rich fertilizer formulated for hibiscus.
Best Growing Conditions for Rose of Sharon
Rose of Sharon isn't fussy, but it'll grow best in well-drained soil with at least six hours of full sunlight per day. In the Southern United States, it's best to plant rose of Sharon in fall, but it can be planted in spring or fall in more northern climates.
Types of Rose of Sharon
The biggest difference in rose of Sharon cultivars is the color and type of flower. Rose of Sharon is available in shades of white, pink, red, purple, and blue. Some are single-petaled, while others have fluffy double petals. Have a smaller space? Look for a dwarf variety like 'Lil' Kim,' which grows to about half the size of a typical specimen.
How to Propagate Rose of Sharon
Rose of Sharon is easy to propagate by taking stem cuttings. You'll get the best results in early summer before the plant flowers. Here's how to propagate rose of Sharon.
What You'll Need
- Healthy, mature plant
- Sharp, sterilized pruners
- Soilless potting mix (such as a blend of equal parts coarse sand, peat moss, and vermiculite)
- Small plant pots
- Rooting hormone powder
- Clear plastic bag
- Identify a healthy stem tip on the mother plant with several leaves. Take a four-inch cutting, removing all but the top two or three leaves. Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone.
- Fill the pots with soilless mix, then water to moisten. Plant the cutting in the pot so that the top of the soilless mix is about halfway up the stem.
- Cover the cutting with a plastic bag to hold in moisture. Put the cutting in a warm place indoors with bright, indirect light or in a shady spot outdoors.
- Remove the plastic bag after one week, then gradually acclimate your new plants to brighter conditions each day.
- After four to eight weeks, give the cutting a gentle tug. If it stays put, the cutting has rooted. Transplant your new rose of Sharon plants and care for them as usual.
Common Problems With Rose of Sharon
Rose of Sharon is an easy-growing, low-maintenance plant once established. Improper watering can cause buds and leaves to drop, while pests like aphids and Japanese beetles can damage leaves, and nematodes in the soil can affect roots.
Fungal diseases like leaf spot, leaf rust, and a variety of molds and mildews can damage leaves and harm your plant. Choosing the proper planting site, watering regularly, and treating pest and disease issues early on are the best ways to keep your rose of Sharon looking healthy and beautiful.
How to Get Rose of Sharon to Bloom
Your rose of Sharon may not develop flowers, or its buds might not open. Be sure to prune your rose of Sharon after blooming (in fall, winter, or very early spring) so you don't remove new shoots with buds.
If your rose of Sharon doesn't get enough light, water, or enough phosphorus in the soil, flowers may not develop. Root rot from overwatering or overly wet conditions and pests like aphids can also cause issues with blooming.
Is rose of Sharon easy to care for?
Yes, rose of Sharon is considered an easy, low-maintenance plant, even for beginning gardeners.
What’s the difference between rose of Sharon and hollyhock?
While they look similar, rose of Sharon and hollyhock (Alcea rosea) are not the same plant. Hollyhocks are biennial flowers, while rose of Sharon is a shrub in the hibiscus genus. You can tell them apart because hollyhocks have divided leaves with rounded lobes on the edges, while rose of Sharon has thicker, shinier serrated leaves.
Can rose of Sharon grow indoors?
It's not recommended to try to grow rose of Sharon indoors. However, gardeners in climates colder than zone 5 may want to plant rose of Sharon in containers so plants can be brought inside for the winter.