Rose of sharon recovery center

Rose of Sharon: not a real rose, but worth growing

This undated photo shows a rose of Sharon shrub in New York. Not related to rose, rose of Sharon is a tough shrub that bears colorful blossoms, they look like hibiscus blossoms, even under urban conditions. (Lee Reich via AP) This undated photo shows a rose of Sharon shrub in New York. Not related to rose, rose of Sharon is a tough shrub that bears colorful blossoms, they look like hibiscus blossoms, even under urban conditions. (Lee Reich via AP)

An unsung hero of the late summer garden is rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus). This shrub’s branches are studded with pastel blossoms year after year, despite drought, poor soil or general neglect. Cold winters or sweltering summers similarly leave it unfazed.

Despite its tolerance for frigid winters, rose of Sharon has always seemed to me a “Southern” shrub. Perhaps that’s because I was inundated with this plant during the two years I sojourned in the most southern county of a barely Southern state. More likely, I connect rose of Sharon with the South because of its family connections. Rose of Sharon is not a rose at all, or even distantly related to one. Rather, hibiscus, cotton and okra are its kin — all “Southern” plants, even though some species of hibiscus, like rose of Sharon, are perfectly at home in cold winter weather. They do like sun and hot summers, though.


Rose of Sharon and its relatives are part of the Mallow Family. The most famous “mallow” plant is the wetland marsh mallow. Marshmallows were originally made from the candied roots of marsh mallows.

Only a glance at rose of Sharon’s blossoms reveals its kinship with other members of the family. From the center of each flaring trumpet of petals protrudes a tubular column of male and female flower parts, the male parts bristling out along the column and the female parts splayed out at the far end. Those petals might be purple, red, pink, white — on some plants even blue. And those trumpets, on some varieties of rose of Sharon, are made up of more than a single row of petals.

You surely are familiar with the plant I’m talking about, but if not, let me clinch recognition with additional description. Rose of Sharon is an upright shrub, perhaps 8 to 10 feet tall. It’s not a delicate shrub, fine with twigs, but one with branches that are relatively thick and few. The shrub rarely sends up new shoots (“suckers”) at or near ground level, so it tends to become like a small, low-branching tree having a single or just a few main stems that live for a long time.


This growth habit tells you something about rose of Sharon’s pruning needs. They are, in a word, few. Like PeeGee hydrangeas and climbing roses, all that rose of Sharon needs is very occasionally to have a decrepit stem cut back low in the plant. If flowering seems too sparse, shortening some stems in the upper part of the shrub will provide the necessary invigoration.

Rose of Sharon blossoms on new growth, so the time to prune it is in late winter, before new growth begins.

The plant’s glory goes on for an extended period, but only once a year. If you plan on planting it, don’t expect to pay any attention to it in autumn, winter, spring or early summer, during which the plant is drab but, thankfully, inconspicuously so.

Wait! Before you dismiss rose of Sharon for its single season of glory, think of forsythia and lilac, both popular and both also at their best in a single season, a short one at that.

No female of passing beauty gave rose of Sharon its name. Rose of Sharon was named for a place: a fertile plain along the Mediterranean coast in western Israel. The plant growing there, the “rose of Sharon” mentioned in the Bible, was probably a wild tulip. Our rose of Sharon’s native home is in India and China, but it was originally thought to originate at the Middle Eastern location.


Hibiscus ‘Sugar Tip’ a non-seeding variety of rose-of-sharon.

(Proven Winners Color Choice)


I’m thinking about planting a rose-of-sharon plant, but the ones I’ve had in the past were terrible self-sowers. My mother-in-law tells me there are some varieties that do


self-sow. Is that true? And if so, do you know which ones?

A: Seeding around can be a big problem with rose-of-sharons. I’ve had people tell me they sometimes pull hundreds of little seedlings every year to keep the plants from coming up everywhere.

I know of at least five rose-of-sharon varieties that are either sterile or don’t produce seeds at all.

You might also run across a new Proven Winners variety called ‘Sugar Tip,’ which is pale pink with variegated leaves. That one doesn’t produce seed.

You should be safe on the self-sowing front with any of those, but keep in mind that these are also pretty hefty-sized shrubs that grow fast. All can end up about 8 to 10 feet tall and 7 or 8 feet across in a few years.

On the plus side, rose-of-sharon is a very tough plant that blooms over a long period from mid-summer on.

If you can give them the room and stick with one of the non-seeding types, that should solve the two main problems.

Garden Help: Rose of Sharon hibiscus loves Florida’s heat

One plant that flourishes in the heat and makes a beautiful display is the hibiscus. There are more than 250 species of hibiscus, but one that is considered a heritage-type plant is the rose of Sharon, also called althea. They were very common in Southern nurseries in the 1800s, so they have been around a long time. Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is native to China and India, and was one of the many plants grown from seed by Thomas Jefferson.

Traditional varieties can get quite large in size, and are typically grown as large shrubs or small patio trees. One of the problems cited in many publications is that they are invasive in many areas of the United States. Homeowners report that they love the flowers but hate the hundreds of seedlings that they generate. I haven’t seen any reference that it is invasive in Florida, but it could be that we are on the southern border for many of these plants, so they are not widely grown in our area.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the National Arboretum released some new varieties that are triploid, so they are sterile. These releases were part of the Roman Goddess series and include Diana, Aphrodite, Helene and Minerva. They are also more compact in size than the traditional altheas. These newer releases were upright, vase-shaped, and topped out at six to eight feet tall with a matching width of four to eight feet. Many are recommended for zones 5 to 8, so do a little research before making a purchase.

There appears to be renewed interest in creating new sterile varieties. One that I am currently growing is Orchid Satin, which is listed as hardy in zones 5 to 9. It will get large, maturing at 8 to 12 feet tall with a spread of four to six feet wide, which makes it a nice background plant in perennial beds. Plants have an upright growth habit and are deciduous, so they will lose their leaves during the winter months. From mid-summer into fall it’s definitely an eye-catcher because of the large lavender-pink blooms with a striking red eye. This is a newer variety and is, in fact, sterile, so there are no worries about weeding volunteer plants.

Another that I planted this year is White Pillar, which is new on the market. This one gets a little taller with a very compact columnar growth habit, reaching 10 to 12 feet tall with a spread of two to three feet. The plant is adorned with beautiful white, semi-double flowers. Purple Pillar® is another release in this series. It has 4-inch single to semi-double blooms with a red center, and has won multiple awards. Because of their growth habit, these two provide some unique landscape uses. In addition, they can also be used as the thriller plant in containers. So far, they are both enjoying the heat and humidity while producing a consistent floral display that attracts both bees and butterflies.

If you decide to grow this plant, make sure you chose an area that gets at least six to eight hours of sun. If grown in too much shade, flower production will be light. Add organic matter to sandy soils when planting to improve the soil’s water-holding capacity, but make sure the site is well-drained. Use a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch like pine straw, pine bark, or leaves to retain moisture and keep soil temperatures cooler.

Once established, rose of Sharon is very drought-tolerant. Water deeply when you see the plant beginning to wilt, and allow soils to dry out between waterings. Flowers bloom on new growth, so any pruning should be done in late winter to early spring. Heavy pruning will likely delay flowering. Also, be patient in the spring because plants may be a little slow to leaf out. Adding a slow-release fertilizer in the spring should carry it through the growing season.

Hibiscus should be readily available in local nurseries and are in bloom now, so you can select plants based on flower color and size. For more information on hardy hibiscus for Florida, go to

Terry Brite DelValle is a horticulture extension agent with the Duval County Extension Service and the University of Florida/IFAS.

Orchid Satin® Rose of Sharon

  • USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9
  • Height 8-12 Feet Tall
  • Spread 4-6 Feet Wide
  • Light Requirement is Full Sun

This sterile rose of Sharon takes low-maintenance to a whole new level. Because Orchid Satin® produces no seeds, there are no seedlings to pull out around it, which is a huge plus in the rose of Sharon world. It has the same easy-going nature of its brethren—drought- and heat-tolerant, accepting of many soil types, and no need for fertilizing or pruning, provided you plant it where it can expand to its full height of 8-12 feet and 4-6 feet wide. Even though it is best used in the back of the border due to its stature, it commands attention all summer long with masses of lavender-pink flowers that have a dramatic red eye. It also works well as a hedge or screen and is useful along a road or driveway since it tolerates road salt. You don’t need to worry about Bambi either since rose of Sharon are not palatable to deer.

In early spring, the glossy dark green leaves unfurl from the bare branches. The foliage stays clean and disease-free all through the growing season, and forms the perfect backdrop for the abundant summer flowers that unfurl from tight buds. Each flower lasts about a day and is replaced by more the next day. Rose of Sharon is truly a pollinator’s delight. Stand near one in full bloom and you will see so many different bees, wasps and butterflies visiting the flowers, and even hummingbirds love the abundant nectar. The overall effect is a graceful, long-flowering shrub that is an asset to any full-sun garden.

Orchid Satin Rose of Sharon Care

If you are in the market for a large, easy-care flowering shrub for a full-sun location, Orchid Satin® rose of Sharon is perfect. Site it in the full sun it craves, plant it correctly and keep watered the first growing season and you will be rewarded with a floriferous long-lived shrub that demands very little from you. Correct planting involves digging a hole that is as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. It helps to cut the roots a little, then add a small amount of soil to the planting hole so the root ball sits an inch or so above grade. You can use the native soil to back-fill around the root ball, then water well to settle the soil around the roots.

If you are growing Orchid Satin Rose of Sharon as a hedge, you can prune it in early spring, but it has a naturally graceful habit so it’s really not necessary. Trim off dead or sick branches anytime of the year. If you wish to do aggressive pruning and cutting, do so in late winter. The plant blooms on new wood, so do not cut too much during the summer.

Interesting Fact(s) – Orchid Satin® Rose of Sharon was developed by the same breeder as the Bobo® and Pinky Winky® panicle hydrangeas.

Orchid Satin Rose of Sharon Spacing

Due to its large size, it’s important to site this plant carefully. Consider any nearby plants and structures when choosing its location it and give it enough room to mature so you do not have to trim it to keep it in bounds later (something you will regret every time you have to pull out your loppers). It is a fairly fast grower so can quickly shade out smaller plants around it. If you plant it at the back of a garden bed or as a specimen, leave about 4 feet all around the trunk for growing space. If there is too much bare space for your taste, you can fill in the area for a few growing seasons with short-lived perennials or annuals. For a hedge, pull the plants closer, 6-7 feet center-on-center so they grow together and appear as one continuous mass.

Hibiscus syriacus ‘ILVO347’ Plant Facts

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-9

Flower Color(s): Lavender-Pink Flowers with Red Eye

Bloom Period: Summer

Foliage Color(s): Green

Exposure: Sun

Height: 8-12 Feet

Spread: 4-6 Feet

Spacing: 6-7 Feet

Habit: Upright

Blooms On: New Wood

Watering: Average

Shrub Type: Deciduous

Scientific Name: Hibiscus syriacus ‘ILVO347’ USPP 27,285

Common Name: Orchid Satin® Rose of Sharon

Brand: Proven Winners®

Plant Finder

Lucy Rose Of Sharon flowers

Lucy Rose Of Sharon flowers

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 8 feet

Spread: 6 feet


Hardiness Zone: 6b

Other Names: Shrub Althea


A somewhat smaller version of this rigidly upright shrub featuring very showy double magenta-pink flowers over a long period; ideal for the mixed garden border or in mass plantings

Ornamental Features

Lucy Rose Of Sharon features bold fuchsia round flowers with pink overtones along the branches from mid summer to early fall. It has green foliage throughout the season. The lobed leaves do not develop any appreciable fall colour. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Lucy Rose Of Sharon is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition.

This is a high maintenance shrub that will require regular care and upkeep, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. It is a good choice for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Insects
  • Disease

Lucy Rose Of Sharon is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Mass Planting
  • Hedges/Screening
  • General Garden Use
  • Container Planting

Planting & Growing

Lucy Rose Of Sharon will grow to be about 8 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 6 feet. It tends to be a little leggy, with a typical clearance of 1 foot from the ground, and is suitable for planting under power lines. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 40 years or more.

This shrub does best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers to grow in average to moist conditions, and shouldn’t be allowed to dry out. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America.

Lucy Rose Of Sharon makes a fine choice for the outdoor landscape, but it is also well-suited for use in outdoor pots and containers. With its upright habit of growth, it is best suited for use as a ‘thriller’ in the ‘spiller-thriller-filler’ container combination; plant it near the center of the pot, surrounded by smaller plants and those that spill over the edges. Note that when grown in a container, it may not perform exactly as indicated on the tag – this is to be expected. Also note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden. Be aware that in our climate, this plant may be too tender to survive the winter if left outdoors in a container. Contact our store for more information on how to protect it over the winter months.

“Lucy” Rose of Sharon Hibiscus(1 Gallon) – Unique ruffled pink flowers, among the toughest most low-maintenance flowering shrubs!

“Lucy” Rose of Sharon is a late-summer blooming Hibiscus that is not only surprisingly gorgeous, but also among the most resilient ornamental flowering shrubs grown today! The outline of the light-pink blossoms are of a classic and simple floral beauty, yet the ruffled petals contained in the heart of these flowers add just the perfect touch of modern elegance to this plant. These fluffy light-pink flowers actually bloom double as well, meaning that for every flower bud which appears, two flowers blossom together! The serrated light-green leaves are quite similar to and of the same pattern as oak leaves, providing the perfect ornamental backdrop to these diamond-shaped blossoms. “Lucy” Rose of Sharon blossoms may appear delicate, but the truth is, they are anything but fragile! This hardy shrub is highly deer-resistant, heat and drought tolerant, cold-hardy down to -15° F, as well as tolerant of high humidity. This flowering shrub is highly resistant to the spots and mildew which occur on most shrubs in climates with high humidity. “Lucy” is both beautiful and low-maintenance, and quite possibly the perfect “plant-and-forget” flowering shrub. All too often, spring flowers get the most attention of all since they signal the shift to warmer temperatures and vibrant summer colors. If you’re looking to extend the colorful floral shows in your landscape past the typical spring timeline, without adding extra maintenance to your landscaping routine, then the “Lucy” Rose of Sharon Hibiscus is perfect for you!

Blue Chiffon® Rose of Sharon

  • USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9
  • Height 8-12 Feet Tall
  • Spread 4-6 Feet Wide
  • Light Requirement is Full Sun

Add some true blue beauty to your landscape with this long-lived, easy care shrub! Large single lacy blue flowers give a commanding performance when they nearly smother the branch tips for weeks in summer on this robust shrub, which reaches 8-12 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide. Many different pollinators and hummingbirds will enjoy the flowers too, but deer tend to pass it by.

Blue Chiffon® Rose of Sharon loves the heat of summer and is very drought tolerant once established. It also shrugs off salt, making it useful for planting next to sidewalks, driveways and streets. With its upright form, Blue Chiffon® is useful as a back-of-the-border anchor plant and is suitable for hedging, although it drops its leaves in winter. Go ahead and shear it after flowering or even through winter if you want to keep a clipped form as it flowers on new wood.

Blue Chiffon Rose of Sharon Care

When siting Rose of Sharon shrubs, more sun is better! They will take a little shade, but the flower show will be a little less exuberant than in full sun. They aren’t fussy about soil either, any average garden soil will do. If you want to apply a slow-release granular fertilizer for flowering shrubs in spring, you’ll have that many more blooms, but it’s not necessary to keep the shrub healthy and flowering well. Watering is important when the shrub is first planted and for a couple months thereafter, especially if rain is scarce, but once established they are very drought tolerant.

Pruning Blue Chiffon Rose of Sharon should normally be done in late winter or early spring. Pruning is not necessary, because the plant blooms on new wood. But some gardeners like to prune to help rejuvenate the plant or to help keep a small shape. Trim dead or diseased growth at anytime of the year, so it doesn’t impact other parts of the plant.

Blue Chiffon Rose of Sharon Spacing

If you are planting a hedge or mass, space these plants 6-7 feet apart center on center. If you are planting a single Blue Chiffon® Rose of Sharon in a garden bed, pull adjoining shrubs and perennials 4 feet away on all sides so they are not engulfed as the Rose of Sharon matures. Also, consider the mature height of 8-12 feet and the potential to shade adjacent plants.

Hibiscus syriacus ‘Notwoodthree’ Plant Facts

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-9

Flower Color(s): Blue-Lavender

Bloom Period: Summer

Foliage Color(s): Dark Green

Exposure: Sun

Height: 8-12 Feet

Spread: 4-6 Feet

Spacing: 6-7 Feet

Habit: Upright

Blooms On: New Wood

Watering: Average

Shrub Type: Deciduous

Scientific Name: Hibiscus syriacus ‘Notwoodthree’ USPP 20,574

Common Name: Blue Chiffon® Rose of Sharon

Brand: Proven Winners®

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