Rose of sharon disease

This oldy but goody from the Malvaceae family is in full flower in my garden. Hibiscus syriacus unfortunately, has a secret. It’s toxic to cats and dogs and the toxin has yet to be identified, according to the ASPCA’s (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) guide to poisonous plants. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and anorexia.

Rose of Sharon sports large tropical-looking single or double flowers in a vast array of colors. The shrub (or small tree) reaches heights of 8 to 12 feet with a 4- to 6-foot spread.

I have several in my yard, but am most fond of the one planted beside my patio. My mom gave it to me when it was nothing more than a 6-inch twig. I planted it beside my patio three years ago. It is now as tall as me at 5’6″. Gotta love a plant that grows so quickly. On the other side of the patio, I planted a double white standard (or tree form) Rose of Sharon. It’s in full flower and loved by bumblebees who get lost within its frilly flowers.

Photo credits (top to bottom): Rose of Sharon, photos by Heather Blackmore.

Poisonous Plants to Humans and Pets

Having plants is common in and outside just about every home. Most plants are perfectly safe, but there are plants that poisonous to children and animals. For your family’s safety, take a look at the poisonous plants to humans and pets below. If ingested, seek immediate medical attention.

Angels Trumpet – All parts of this plant are toxic. If any part of this flower is eaten, it can cause hallucinations. The flowers have been known to appeal to young children.

Anthurium – They are also known as flamingo flowers or pigtail plants and are definitely toxic. If they are eaten, you will experience a painful burning sensation in your mouth. You may develop blisters and swelling inside of your mouth. You may have difficulty swallowing and your voice may become horse. Most of the symptoms will fade over time. Cold liquid, pain pills and licorice have been known to bring relief to these symptoms.

Daffodils – These beautiful signs of spring have been known to be mildly toxic if eaten in a large quantity. Sometimes, they can be confused for an onion. Symptoms are nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea.

Foxgloves – Foxgloves tends to grow up to three feet with beautiful, drooping flowers. Its Latin name is Digitalis which is also the name of a familiar heart drug. The leaves of the plant are used to make the drug. If the leaves are ingested you will feel nausea, cramps and even pain in your mouth. It may cause vomiting and diarrhea. You may also have heart problems. A doctor should be notified immediately to pump your stomach and bring your heart rate back to normal.

Hydrangea – This is a common flower that can grow up to 15 feet tall. They come in many different colors. If the flowers are eaten, a few hours later you will experience stomach pain, itchy skin, vomiting, sweating and weakness. Some may even experience convulsions.

Lilly of the Valley – They are also known as Mayflowers. This entire plant is poisonous! If a small piece of the plant is ingested you will not have extreme symptoms and pain. If a lot is ingested, you can experience nausea, vomiting, mouth pain, stomach pain, cramps and a slow heart rate.

Oleander – The whole plant is poisonous. If you are having a fire pit and roasting marshmallows, make sure that sticks are not from the Oleander plant. Inhaling the smoke will still cause symptoms. If ingested, there will be a change in heart rate and high potassium levels.

Poinsettia – If you or your children are handing a Poinsettia, handle with care because the sap is a known skin irritant. If the leaves or seeds are eaten, it can cause delirium.

Rhododendrons and Azalea Bushes – They are beautiful in the springtime and can be found in many yards in the neighborhood. The leaves and honey are very toxic. If any is ingested, you will experience mouth burning, vomiting, tingling in the skin, headaches, weak muscles, dim vision and a change in heart rate.

Sago Palm – This is one of the oldest living plants on the planet. They say it has survived so long because animals do not eat it (if yours does, call the vet immediately). The entire plant is toxic, even down to the bottom of the root. Ingesting it will cause vomiting, diarrhea and it can even lead to liver failure.

Wisteria –Wisteria is a beautiful plant that has blue, pink, or white flowers. The flower mainly grows in the South or Southwest. The seeds and pods inside of the plant can cause gastric pain and vomiting if they are eaten.

Check Out Poisonous Plants for Pets on the Next Page!&pagebreaking&

Poisonous Plants for Pets

Aloe – Aloe can be a great plant for treating burns but if it is ingested by your family pet, they will experience many different symptoms. Aloe contains Saponins which is toxic to dogs and cats. Some of the signs will be change in urine color, vomiting, depression and diarrhea.

Amaryllis – This is a common plant around Easter. The toxins in Amaryllis will cause vomiting, hyper salivation, depression, abdominal pain and even anorexia.

Apple Trees – Apple trees as well as crab apples can be extremely toxic to household pets. The stems, leaves and seeds contain cyanide. When the tree starts to wilt is when it is extremely toxic. Your pet will experience trouble breathing, panting and dilated pupils.

Autumn Crocus – This is extremely harmful to pets due to it containing colchicum autumn ale. If your pet ingests it, the symptoms will show as oral irritation, blood when vomiting, diarrhea, multi organ damage and could result in bone marrow suppression.

Castor Bean – It contains Ricin, which is a highly toxic protein. It can cause stomach pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite. Depending on how much is consumed, it can result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, coma and even death.

Chrysanthemum – Even though this is a popular and beautiful flower, it contains pyrethrins. If ingested, pyrethrins can cause many symptoms, such drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of coordination.

Cyclamen – It contains a high amount of Cyclamine in the root of the plant. Make sure it is not consumed because it can cause many symptoms, such as gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting.

Daisy – Daisy’s are a common flower but can be harmful to dogs and cats. They contain the toxins sesquiterpene, lactones and pyrethrins. Ingesting part of a daisy can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyper salivation, coordination issues and dermatitis.

Hibiscus – They are also known as the Rose of Sharon or the Rose of China. If a hibiscus is ingested, it can be extremely toxic to dogs, cats and even horses. There is an unknown toxin in the flower that causes vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and even anorexia.

Kalanchoe – Known for the serious heart affects, it should not be ingested. The plant contains poisonous components that are toxic to the heart and will cause serious cardiac rhythm and rate issues, as well as gastrointestinal problems. Make sure to keep your family pet away to ensure it does not eat it.

Lilies – Lilies are highly toxic to cats. Even if a small amount is ingested, it can still cause irritation and symptoms that can lead to severe kidney damage. Make sure to keep them away from your cat.

Schefflera – This plant contains calcium oxalate crystals that will cause oral irritation if it is ingested. You can expect drooling, vomiting, and burning and irritation of your pet’s mouth, lips and tongue.

Tulip – The bulb of the tulip contains toxins that should not be ingested by your pet. If a bulb is ingested, symptoms can be drooling, loss of appetite, depression, convulsions, cardiac abnormalities and gastrointestinal irritation.

Yew – Yew contains Taxine which is extremely toxic to pets. If it is eaten, it can cause central nervous system effects, such as difficulty breathing, coordination issues and cardiac failure.

Home Sweet Bees

Bee in Double Rose of Sharon Bush

When I first started beekeeping, I thought there would be some discipline to what plants bees would visit.

Not that there isn’t. Bees do prefer high pollen-producing plants, such as dandelions, clover, sunflowers, buckwheat and blue salvia.

There are a number of books that explain how bees chose their flowers and what flowers they might prefer. Bees visit 2 million flowers and fly 55, 000 miles to produce one pound of honey. One bee colony can produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey per year. An average worker bee makes only about 1/12 teaspoon of honey in its six-week lifetime.

Considering that bees make honey for winter food, flower visitation is important to the bees success in getting honey stored before winter.

I had just finished reading one such book, which basically said bees need to have clear access to pollen. Double-bloomed plants, although very pretty, are not supposed to be good bee plants.

My bee buddy David and I were discussing the book when I spotted one of his honeybees visiting a nearby double Rose of Sharon bush. We watched for several minutes as the bee moved around the inside of the plant. When it left, its little leg pouches were stuffed with a cream-colored pollen.

Add Double Rose of Sharon Bush to a honeybee’s favorite plant list!


On a recent trip to Michigan to visit family, I was captivated by the Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) bush in their front yard. It was a magnet for everything with wings! One afternoon, I dragged a lawn chair into the shade by the bush to watch for about an hour to see what visitors I could spot, including:

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), female

Honeybees (Apis mellifera)

And plenty more I didn’t capture photos of, including other varieties of bees, wasps, and flies. I also spotted other butterflies using the flowers for nectar, including a Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes), Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele), and Cabbage White (Pieris rapae). Dragonflies were using the branches to perch, and small songbirds flitted in and out of the shelter of the branches. It was simply amazing how this one small bush was providing food and shelter for so many different species all at once.

This Rose of Sharon wasn’t large, but it was able to attract wildlife like you wouldn’t believe!

Rose of Sharon is native to Asia, and usually grown in the U.S. in zones 5 – 8. It blooms summer through fall, and is easy to grow in most soils and conditions. It can be pruned into a hedge or tree form, or left to ramble wild. Find multiple cultivars at your local garden center, or ask a friend or neighbor for a stem cutting from one in their yard to root. (Learn how here.) One word of caution: this non-native shrub is considered invasive in some areas. If you’re concerned, check with your local extension office to find out if Rose of Sharon is right for your yard.

What wildlife do you see on your Rose of Sharon bushes? Come chat about it in our Gardening Forums!

Rose Of Sharon Problems – Dealing With Common Althea Plant Issues

Rose of sharon, or althea shrubs as they are commonly called, are usually low maintenance, reliable bloomers in zones 5-8. However, like any other landscape plants, rose of sharon can experience problems with specific pests or diseases. In this article, we will discuss common althea plant issues. Continue reading to learn about common rose of sharon pests and diseases.

About Rose of Sharon Pests and Diseases

Both pests and diseases can afflict rose of sharon plants at any given time.


Rose of sharon shrubs are much loved for their large, prolific, tropical-looking blooms in late summer. Depending on variety, these blooms come in a wide range of color and may be single or double. Besides gardeners, these blooms are attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Unfortunately, Japanese beetles are also very attracted to the lovely blooms too. One of the most troubling rose of sharon problems, these pests can cause large holes or leave nothing but skeletonized remains.

Some other common pests of rose of sharon are root knot nematodes and aphids. Systemic insecticides can help prevent many of these pests when applied annually in spring.

Root knot nematode damage may appear as wilting or drying up plants. These nematodes cause knots or galls to form on the underground roots of rose of sharon. The galls disrupt the plant’s ability to take up water or nutrients, causing the aerial parts of the plant to slowly die.

Aphids are a troublesome pest of many plants. Not only do they quickly infest a plant and suck it dry, but they also leave behind a sticky honeydew. Aphid honeydew attracts ants and other insects but also traps fungal spores on their sticky surfaces, leading to fungal infections of plant tissues, specifically sooty mold.

Frogs, toads and ladybugs are excellent allies in keeping insect pest populations under control.


Rose of sharon shrubs can be sensitive to drought or waterlogged soil. Yellowing or browning leaves, dropping buds, wilting plants or stunted growth problems with althea oftentimes are caused by improper drainage in the planting site. Rose of sharon shrubs need well-draining soil and regular watering in times of drought. Throughout southern regions, flower bud drop can be a common althea problem when plants are not properly watered.

Leaf spot and leaf rust are other common rose of sharon problems. Leaf spot is a fungal disease caused by the fungi Cercospora spp. Its symptoms include circular spots or lesions on the foliage and premature dropping of leaves. Leaf rust can also cause spotting of foliage; however, with rust, orange-rust colored fungal pustules will form on the undersides of the foliage.

Both these fungal diseases can overwinter in garden debris, soil and on plant tissues, re-infecting plants year after year. To end this cycle, cut back all infected plant tissues and destroy them. Then, in spring, spray plants and the soil around them with preventative fungicides.

Some other, less common, althea plant issues include gray mold, powdery mildew, cotton root rot and cankers.

Rose of Sharon didn’t come back this year

We are seeing trees and shrubs all along the Front Range that received damage or are now dead because of the November freeze. The warm weather we had in October and November slowed many plants’ entry into dormancy. Going from 60s to below zero in a 24-hour period gave the plants no time to prepare, and many trees and shrubs were damaged. The snow and freeze that we had the weekend of Mother’s Day also caused many new leaves and flowers on trees to die back as well.

One thing you could do is check the twigs and buds on your shrubs. Gently bend back the tips of the branches…do they bend or snap? If they snap, that tissue is dead. Scratch the bark to see if there is any green tissue.
Depending on the health of the trees leading to the November cold snap and any prior stress, could determine if the shrubs will survive. You can also prune those areas that you know are dead and leave those branches which are alive. There may or may not be enough left for the plant to survive in the end.

Is my Rose of Sharon dead or should I give it more time? | The Kansas City Star

Pruned Rose of Sharon. Submitted.


I pruned my Freedom Rose of Sharon bush/tree in early spring this year as I do every year. However, I have no leaves or buds this time; just a few suckers growing up from the bottom. It usually grows to over 7 feet tall with masses of flowers. However, for the first time this year, nothing. It just looks like it’s dead.

I did remove one large branch when (I was pruning) that was leaning off to the side and sprayed the open wound with pruning seal. I recently cut a piece off a limb and it still has green around the edges. Should I leave my bush/tree and wait and see what happens next spring or should I remove it now? Thanks – Rose


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A number of plants have had problems this spring with the effects on last November’s cold spell. We dropped from a fairly warm day down into the teens. As a result many plants had extreme dieback. We have not seen as much damage to Rose of Sharon but I think this might be the issue. How long ago was it cut back? A stressed plant will take longer to develop new buds so give it at least a month to six weeks to develop the new growth. You might also check to see if the vascular system is alive. Take your fingernail and scratch under the bark – if it is green good, if it is brown or dry, the branch is dead. If the vascular system is dead cut back to the ground and allow the new shoots at the base to develop. If green wait a few more weeks and see if new growth comes out. The good news is the plant is coming back from the roots. Hope this helps. – Dennis

Hibiscus Scentless Plant Bug

PDIC Factsheets

Description and Biology

Skip to Description and Biology

The hibiscus scentless plant bug, Niesthrea louisianica, is associated with rose-of-Sharon and hibiscus. This small bug is mostly white to gray with black markings on the body and legs. The head and outer margins of the wings are yellow to orange. Nymphs are smaller that adults, lack wings, and the abdomens tend to be purple with white markings. The eggs are dark reddish brown. It feeds on flower buds and seeds. Starting in late April and early May, eggs are laid in masses of one to 36 on the undersides of leaves. Each female can lay over 700 eggs. Newly hatched nymphs feed on developing flowers and on last year’s seed pods. The first generation matures in June and lays its eggs on buds, flowers, and seed pods. We have at least three to four generations per year in North Carolina. By the end of the growing season, all stages of development are present on host plants. Hibiscus scentless plant bugs are usually not damaging enough nor common enough to be considered a real economic pest and their feeding usually does not cause noticeable injury to the general health of the infested plant. During the growing season, males live about 50 days and females live for about two months. Hibiscus scentless plant bugs overwinter as adults in leaf litter on the ground.

The yellow spots on the hibiscus scentless plant bug can vary from bright yellow to orange.


The yellow spots on the hibiscus scentless plant bug can vary from bright yellow to orange.

Females usually lay their eggs in small groups.


Females usually lay their eggs in small groups.

Hibiscus scentless plant bug nymphs develop wing buds as the grow.


Hibiscus scentless plant bug nymphs develop wing buds as the grow.

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