The rose of sharon

Plant Database


  • native to China and India
  • hardy to zone 5
  • Special Note: This species has demonstrated an invasive tendency in Connecticut, meaning it may escape from cultivation and naturalize in minimally managed areas. For more information, .

Habit and Form

  • a deciduous, flowering shrub
  • 8′ to 10′ tall
  • 6′ to 8′ wide
  • upright, spreading branching
  • develops a vase-shaped outline
  • often leggy at the base
  • multi-stemmed with lots of vertical branches

Summer Foliage

  • alternate, simple, deciduous leaves
  • leaves 3-lobed
  • margins coarsely toothed
  • 2″ to 4″ long
  • medium to dark green
  • leaf surface glabrous sometimes shiny
  • late to leaf out in spring

Autumn Foliage

  • yellow-green
  • leave hold late
  • overall poor effect


  • large, showy blossoms in July, August, and September
  • white, pink, magenta, violet, blue, and combinations of these
  • 5-petaled
  • 2″ to 4″ across
  • single or double
  • flowers are solitary
  • produced on current season’s growth


  • a brown capsule
  • 0.75″ long
  • persists through the winter
  • 5-valved


  • light gray


  • full sun is best, but tolerant of partial shade
  • soils are not critical
  • easily transplanted
  • annual pruning back will result in increases shoot vigor and larger flowers
  • likes hot weather
  • may need to remove winter killed stems

Landscape Use

  • shrub border
  • screen
  • groupings and mass plantings
  • useful for late season bloom
  • do not use as a specimen plant
  • standard forms may be used as small trees


  • does not have multi-season ornamental appeal
  • winter injury and twig dieback
  • late to leaf out in spring
  • leaf spot, cankers, rust, aphids, spider mites

ID Features

  • 3-lobed leaves
  • late summer large flowers
  • distinctive vase-shaped habit
  • persistent 5-valved capsules
  • indistinct buds
  • shelf-like projections mark the position of previous flowers and fruit
  • thread-like stipules are persistent


  • by cuttings
  • by seed


Dozens of forms are available, but the following listing encompasses cultivars that indicate the range of types offered.

‘Aphrodite’ – This U.S. National Arboretum introduction features dark pink flowers exhibiting a dark red eyespot. The foliage is heavily textured. As this plant is a triploid, it should not produce as many seedlings. Some observations indicate ample seed production.

‘Ardens’, ‘Blushing Bride’ and ‘Peoniflora’ – These cultivars are just a few of the many forms sold at nurseries with double blooms of a pink or rose hue.

‘Blue Bird’ (also listed as ‘Bluebird’) – A form with single flowers that are a blue with a reddish base, this old form is still popular in the trade.

‘Diana’ – This triploid U.S. National Arboretum introduction is one of the best white-flowered forms. The blooms are large and lack a central blotch. They remain open at night and are produced over a long period due to little or no seed production. This plant appears to be less vigorous than other forms.

‘Helene’ – A triploid form producing white flowers that are maroon at the base, this U.S. National Arboretum introduction flowers heaviliy and sets little fruit.

‘Minerva’ – A heavy-blooming cultivar with lavender flowers overcast with some pink, this plant remains smaller and more shrubby (to 9′ tall). The flowers have a red eye and the foliage is higher quality than the species. A U.S. National Arboretum introduction reportedly performing well into USDA zone 5.

‘Pink Giant’ – This form bears large, 5″ wide pink blooms with a deep red central blotch. It grows 8′ tall and wide.

‘Purpureus Variegatus’ and ‘Meehanii’ – These are two of the more common variegated forms, featuring leaves variously edged or mottled with white, yellow, and gray. The flowers are of secondary interest on these plants.

‘Tri-color’ – This is a very unusual cultivar with double flowers colored pink, red and purple on one plant.

Rose of Sharon – Red – Bare Root Plant – Althea – 3 pack


The Rose of Sharon, also known as Althea, is a deciduous, ornamental, hardy, shrub. It brings a bit of tropic beauty to more temperate climates. It is a member of the Hibiscus genus. The beautiful red color flowers that bloom make a beautiful sight to your landscape. Hummingbirds and butterflies love these shrubs. So if you love to watch them make sure you plant some outside your deck or patio. Great used for borders, hedges, life fences, and screens. Unlike other shrubs their leaves do not start appearing until late spring to early summer. So don’t think that it is dead. The Rose of Sharon is a heat lover shrub as it can stand up to summer’s heat.

The Pink Rose of Sharon grows 8-10 feet high and 4 – 6 feet wide. Oval in shape it has pink blooms in late summer through the fall. The medium-green leaves are coarse.


  • Purchase Red Rose of Sharon bare roots – 3 pack
  • Prefers full sun
  • Prefers moist, well-drained soil
  • Zones 5 – 9

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Hibiscus syriacus: Rose-of-Sharon1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2


Rose-of-Sharon is valued for large flowers produced in summer when few other shrubs bloom. It is useful as a garden accent due to its strict, upright habit. The open, loose branches and light green leaves make Rose-of-Sharon ideally suited to formal or informal plantings, and with a little pruning makes an attractive, small specimen tree. The plant grows in sun or partial shade and in any soil. Rose-of-Sharon grows 8 to 10 feet tall and spreads 4 to 10 feet. The growth rate ranges from slow to moderate, and transplanting is easy. Several roots are usually located just beneath the soil surface.

Figure 1.

Middle-aged Hibiscus syriacus: Rose-of-Sharon


Ed Gilman

General Information

Scientific name: Hibiscus syriacus Pronunciation: high-BISS-kuss seer-ee-AY-kuss Common name(s): Rose-of-Sharon, Shrub-Althea Family: Malvaceae USDA hardiness zones: 5B through 9A (Fig. 2) Origin: not native to North America nvasive potential: invasive non-native Uses: specimen; container or planter; trained as a standard; deck or patio Availability: not native to North America Figure 2.



Height: 8 to 12 feet Spread: 4 to 10 feet Crown uniformity: symmetrical Crown shape: upright/erect Crown density: open Growth rate: slow Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3) Leaf type: simple Leaf margin: dentate Leaf shape: rhomboid, ovate Leaf venation: palmate, pinnate Leaf type and persistence: deciduous Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches Leaf color: green Fall color: no color change Fall characteristic: not showy Figure 3.



Flower color: red, pink, white/cream/gray, purple, blue, lavender Flower characteristics: very showy Figure 4.



Fruit shape: irregular Fruit length: .5 to 1 inch Fruit covering: dry or hard Fruit color: brown Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically multi-trunked; thorns Pruning requirement: little required Breakage: susceptible to breakage Current year twig color: gray Current year twig thickness: thin, medium Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun, partial sun or partial shade Soil tolerances: sand; loam; clay; acidic; occasionally wet; well-drained Drought tolerance: moderate Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate


Roots: not a problem Winter interest: no Outstanding tree: no Ozone sensitivity: unknown Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

The single or double flowers are in shades of red, pink, white and purple, depending on the cultivar. Individual flowers stay open for one day and close at night. Since plants bloom on new growth, shaping or pruning can be done at any time. However, pruning is usually not required since the plant grows slowly and keeps a tight upright form. Prune in late winter or early spring in northern climates. Frequent severe pruning gives fewer but larger flowers; no or little pruning gives many smaller flowers.

Although tolerant of poor soils and drought in sun or light shade, this upright, deciduous shrub requires ample moisture to flower its best and to avoid leaf-drop. Some protection from mid-day or afternoon sun is beneficial for optimum plant appearance. Tolerance to aerosol salt and wet soils combined with drought-tolerance make this a fine plant for many landscapes.

Propagation is by cuttings.


Although usually strong and easy to grow, hibiscus can be bothered by aphids which accumulate at the tips of stems, causing new growth to be misshapen. Aphids may cover the leaves with sticky honeydew. The insects can be dislodged with high pressure water sprays from the garden hose or controlled by pinching off the part of the twig with the insects. Over-fertilizing increases aphid infestations.

In northern gardens, Japanese beetles are particularly fond of the flowers.


If leaf spots are seen, pick off and destroy the infected leaves.

If bacterial leaf spot causes problems, pick off and destroy infected leaves.

Canker can kill branches or entire plants. Bright, reddish-orange fruiting bodies may appear on the bark. Prune out infected branches.

Flowers may be infected with a blight caused by a fungus.

Bud drop can be caused by too much or too little water or over fertilization.


This document is ENH454, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville FL, 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension office.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.

If you’re looking for a tough-as-nails, yet breathtakingly beautiful, shrub for your yard, rose-of-sharon may just be the answer. It is completely unrelated to roses, but its soft pink blossoms have a similar charm.

Character and Description

Rose-of-sharon is a large deciduous shrub in the mallow family. Its flower resembles a tropical hibiscus, though the shrub is much easier to grow and is quite cold hardy. It also bears a close resemblance to hollyhock flowers which grows as an herbaceous biennial, rather than a woody shrub.


Rose-of-sharon grows up to 15 feet tall and has an upright growth habit, meaning that it is typically taller than it is wide. It is easily maintained as a six-foot hedge, if desired. It can also be trained as a small patio tree.


The dark green, five-pointed leaves have an attractive grayish cast to them and the flower colors include white, pink, purple, blue and red, depending on the variety. One of the most appealing things about rose-of-sharon is its bloom time – the first flowers appear in late summer and continue through fall when few other plants are in bloom.

In the Landscape

This is a great shrub for a tough spot.

Planting Tips

Rose-of-sharon is happiest in full sun with rich soil and regular moisture – but it will generally survive (and often thrive) in partial shade with hard, infertile clay soil, and no supplemental water.

Focal Point

Other than using it to fill a spot where nothing else will grow, rose-of-sharon makes a great focal point. It will grow very quickly in a pot to make a gorgeous patio specimen or it can be placed in the middle of a large flower bed surrounded by low-growing perennials and groundcovers. Alternatively, use a row of rose-of-sharon as an informal hedge behind a flower border or along a property line.

Care and Maintenance

Rose-of-sharon is a very carefree plant.

Regular Maintenance

That being said, it will benefit from a weekly watering and will flower more prolifically with an application of bloom booster (high phosphorus) fertilizer applied in late summer. Maintain a layer of wood chips or pine straw over the root zone to keep the weeds down and to conserve soil moisture.

The most likely maintenance activity needed with rose-of-sharon is to control its growth. It can grow 10 feet from the ground in one season and often seeds itself, creating little seedlings that need to be pulled.


Prune as needed to maintain the desired height. Many gardeners choose to cut the entire plant back to within six inches of the ground in winter, which results in compact growth the following year and larger flowers. Rose-of-sharon has a tendency to get leggy, so cutting it back hard at least every few years is a good idea.

Pests and Disease

Aphids, white flies and powdery mildew can show up on rose-of-sharon, though these are rarely a serious problem. Aphids and whiteflies can be kept under control with a stiff blast of water to dislodge the insects from the infected area, or an insecticidal soap can be used to treat severe infestations. Powdery mildew is often a sign that the plant is not getting enough sun and air circulation.


There are numerous named varieties with different flower colors. These also have the added benefit of not seeding themselves in the landscape.

  • Blue Bird – Blue flowers with a red center
  • Jeanne d’Arc – Double white flowers
  • Lucy – Double red flowers
  • Aphrodite – Pink flowers with a red center
  • Ardens – Double purple flowers
  • Helene – White flowers with a red center


If you can’t find a local source for rose-of-sharon, you can order from one of these online nurseries:

  • The Arbor Day Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports community tree planting that offers one to 1.5-foot rose-of-sharon plants for under $10.
  • Brighter Blooms Nursery offers five to six-foot tall rose-of-sharon plants already trained into a tree form for between $30 and $60, depending on the variety.
  • To really blow your friends away, try the 3-in-1 rose-of-sharon from the Michigan Bulb Company – they’ve grafted pink, white and blue-flowering varieties onto a single bush which typically costs are $15.

A Dream Plant

Rose-of-sharon is a dream come true for gardeners – it is stunningly beautiful and truly low maintenance. It is fast-growing and usually one of the least expensive plants for its size, making it an excellent choice to fill large holes in the landscape on a budget.

Rose Of Sharon Care: How To Grow A Rose Of Sharon

Colorful, showy flowers appear in summer in shades of white, red, pink and purple on the rose of Sharon bush. Growing rose of Sharon is an easy and effective way to add long lasting summer color with little fuss. The large, showy flowers attract birds, butterflies and other useful pollinators.

How to Grow a Rose of Sharon

Care for rose of Sharon, botanically named Hibiscus syriacus, is minimal. After planting rose of Sharon, this attractive specimen may thrive with neglect. However, some care, especially pruning for shape, will likely be needed for this showy shrub to add value to your landscape display.

Also known as shrub Althea, this 9- to 12-foot specimen is a native of eastern Asia that is well adapted to growing in most USDA plant hardiness zones. It often reaches a spread of 10 feet and can be used as part of a growing privacy border.

When planting rose of Sharon in the landscape, consider that it may reseed abundantly. Prepare to remove additional plants appearing in unwanted areas. These can be relocated to a more desirable location or shared with friends.

Shrub Althea is best planted into rich well-draining, slightly acidic soil in a full sun to part shade location. The rose of Sharon bush prefers moist, well-draining soil, although it will tolerate most soil conditions except those that are soggy or extremely dry. A top dressing of organic compost or mulch may benefit the rose of Sharon bush.

Ongoing Care for Rose of Sharon

Bud drop can be a problem with growing rose of Sharon. This may be caused in part when the rose of Sharon bush is under stressful conditions, so try to keep the shrub as happy as possible. Too little water or too much fertilization may contribute to bud drop, which seems inherent to the rose of Sharon bush. Monitor conditions on growing rose of Sharon to be rewarded with a long season of large showy single or double blooms.

Flowers grow on the current year’s growth; early pruning before buds develop can keep the growing rose of Sharon in top form and keep the tree-like shrub in bounds.

A deciduous shrub, learning how to grow a rose of Sharon and keep it under control is best done with experimentation on your cultivar. Some have attractive drooping branches while others assume an upright form. Care for rose of Sharon can depend on the form taken by your specimen.

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