Common name: Hardy hibiscus
Botanical name: Hibiscus “Sweet Caroline”
Attributes: Floriferous, large-flowered hybrid of our native hardy hibiscuses (often called rose mallows). Sweet Caroline is a large perennial that reaches 4 to 6 feet with an equal spread. The flowers are produced abundantly, but individual flowers last only for a day. Flowers are followed by interesting seedpods that can last through winter or be cut for dried arrangements.
Bloom color: Pink
Bloom time: From late summer into fall
Culture: Plant hardy hibiscus in moist to wet soil for best results (heavy clay soils is fine) – they are native to wetlands. They survive dry soil quite well, but to look their best they should be watered during dry spells. Flowering is best when they are planted in spring through summer; fall plantings should be heavily mulched so they will root in well for winter.
Landscaping tips: This big, bold perennial looks great as a specimen plant in the perennial border or water garden, or in masses along a stream or lake. Good companion plants include bold ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus grasses and cordgrass; other moisture-loving perennials like Louisiana and Siberian iris, New York ironweed and Autumn Sun Rudbeckia; and shrubs like summer-sweet clethra, Virginia sweetspire and buttonbush.
Rose Of Sharon Companion Plants: What To Plant Near To Rose Of Sharon
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.
Rose of Sharon Companion Plants
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
- Lilac (Syringa)
- Forsythia (Forsythia)
- Viburnum (Viburnum)
- Hydrangea (Hydrangea)
- Bluebeard (Caryopteris)
- Wintergreen boxwood (Buxus mirophylla ‘Wintergreen’)
- Helleri holly (Ilex crenata ‘Helleri’)
- Little giant arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Little Giant’)
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:
- Purple coneflower (Echinacea)
- Phlox (Phlox)
- Oriental lilies (Lilium asiatic)
- Blue globe thistle (Echinops bannaticus ‘Blue Glow’)
- Lavender (Lavendula)
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.
- Mount Atlas daisy (Anacyclus pyrethrum depressus)
- Creeping thyme (Thymus praecox)
- Basket of gold (Aurinia saxatillis)
- Verbena (Verbena canadensis)
- Hosta (Hosta)
Connecticut Garden Journal: When Shrubs Stop Blooming, The Rose Of Sharon Begins
Listen Listening… / 2:00
Some plant common names can steer you in the wrong direction. Take Rose of Sharon for example.
Depending on the plant, it’s:
- a biblical bulb grown in the plains of Syria and Lebanon
- an evergreen shrub in Europe
- an Asian native deciduous shrub that’s the national flower of South Korea
The correct answer is 3.
The Rose of Sharon shrub blooming now is botanically Hibiscus syriacus. It has single or double hibiscus-like blooms. But unlike the tropical Florida shrub, Rose of Sharon is hardy to zone 5, so it grows in our region.
While Rose of Sharon is slow to leaf out in the spring, it flowers in mid-summer when few other shrubs are blooming. It produces colorful blue, pink, red, lavender, purple, or white blooms that are favorites of hummingbirds and butterflies. It likes the heat and humidity and can bloom into September.
Grow Rose of Sharon in a well-drained spot in full sun. Give it some room.
Most varieties grow to eight to 12 feet tall, and four to six feet wide. It makes an excellent hedge plant and an impressive specimen in the lawn or near your house. Prune it in late-winter to stimulate more growth and flowers.
The Chiffon series features blue, white, rose, and lavender selections with semi-double flowers.
For a dwarf variety try Lil Kim. It grows four feet tall and has white flowers with red throats. The seeds are sterile, so it’s less likely to self sow.
Sugar Tip is a double flowering variety with variegated leaves. Oh, and not only is Rose of Sharon beautiful, the flowers are edible too!
Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I’ll be talking about harvesting melons.