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The Rose of Sharon

While it’s named the rose of Sharon, this gorgeous and popular flower isn’t a rose at all! It’s actually a member of the hibiscus family and it’s prized for the large, tropical-looking flowers it produces. The shape and color of the blooms vary, depending on the specific variety, which means there’s one that’s sure to be a great fit for your garden.

Closeup of three blooms on a rose of Sharon shrub.

Are you curious now and thinking of growing your own beautiful rose of Sharon bush? Then keep reading for what you’ll need to know!

Characteristics of the Rose of Sharon Bush

The flowers are often large and colorful, with unique shapes and a tropical flair. Some are single blossom flowers, while other cultivars feature double flowers in flat or frilly shapes.

When you look at different varieties of rose of Sharon, you find blooms in colors such as purples, pinks, white, blue, and red. The leaves are often deep green, or bluish green, and some have white or pale veins running through the leaves.

A rose of Sharon bloom with white petals and dark pink in the center.

This plant likes to be in a sunny spot for optimal bloom, but it can tolerate some shade- especially in hot climates.

Since a rose of Sharon plant can turn into a literal tree, often reaching heights of 16-feet, placement is everything. Make sure that you plant your seedling or shrub where it can spread as it matures.

Some varieties can grow two feet per year (average is twelve to twenty-four inches). Make sure yours has ample room to grow. If space is a problem, consider dwarf varieties that can be cultivated in a pot or container.

Rose of Sharon Bush Care

So, how do you take are of a rose of Sharon? It’s easy as long as it’s planted in the right spot with ample room to grow. Consider some other tips to help your shrub thrive!

  • Try to plant your rose of Sharon at least six feet apart from one another.
  • When planting your seedling, dig your hole twice as wide and as deep as the root-ball of the plant.
  • Loosen the soil around the root-ball carefully before planting in the ground.
  • Tamp the soil gingerly to remove the air before watering.
  • Add a layer of bark mulch on top to preserve moisture and protect the roots.
  • Make sure that your soil is well-draining to prevent root rot.
  • Water infrequently, but liberally near the trunk into the surrounding soil. The plant will be drought-tolerant once it is mature.
A pink-purple rose of Sharon bloom.

It does not hurt to fertilize your rose of Sharon each spring with a granular fertilizer. Use a 10-10-10 or a 10-20-10 fertilizer.

Where and When to Plant Rose of Sharon Bush

A Rose of Sharon is easy to plant, and adapts well to many growing conditions. It’s hardiest in USDA grow zone 5b, where winter temps are milder.

Plant your seedlings in spring or early fall, whenever the weather is a bit cooler in your distinct climate.

Make sure you choose a spot that gets a good six hours of sun daily- and allow your bush ample room to spread as the plants grow and mature. They do best with some afternoon shade in hot climates to prevent burning of the leaves or dehydration.

A rose of Sharon shrub with white and dark pink blooms.

Pruning the Rose of Sharon Bush

With thoughtful pruning, your rose of Sharon can have a primary trunk which makes it look more like a tree than a shrub. Prune in late winter or early spring to ensure it blooms normally in the warmer months.

Prune your shrub carefully the first two seasons so that the plant will adopt the shape you want. This includes shaping it around or against a structure in your landscape, making it appear to be a climber.

Be patient and do not assume your rose of Sharon has died if it does not bloom by mid-summer. Sometimes this plant blooms later than expected.

Common Pests of the Rose of Sharon Bush

The biggest concern in terms of pests is the possibility of Japanese beetle infestations. While Japanese beetles are easy to see, they can be relentless, and you may need to get clever to rid your garden of them. If you can pick them off your shrub, drop them in a bucket of soapy water to kill them.

Different Varieties of the Rose of Sharon Bush

There are several distinctive varieties of rose of Sharon that you may choose to cultivate to fit perfectly in your yard, garden, and landscape vision. They vary in the color and shape of the flowers that bloom each year. Consider the following varieties for your own green space!

Purple Pillar

Purple Pillar is what you would expect — bold purple flowers in a tall plant. The blossoms form double-flowers that are purple with a red center.

A purple rose of Sharon bloom.

Chiffon

The Chiffon rose of Sharon comes by its name naturally, as it has a fluffy, airy shape and appearance. The flowers are puffy and found in white, purple, magenta, pink, and blue.

Satin

The Satin rose of Sharon has bold, trumpet-shaped flowers with little to no seeds at all. Choose purple, blue, orchid, or azure Satin varieties- depending on your personal color preferences.

Sugar Tip

The Sugar Tip variety features variegated leaves and light-pink flowers. The leaves are bluish-green and white, creating a colorful outdoor display.

Lil’ Kim

Lil’ Kim variety of rose of Sharon is a dwarf that reaches half the size, so they are perfect for containers or small green-spaces. The flowers last all season and are snowy-white with red stamens.

Petite Polly

Petite Polly shrubs are smaller and denser, so they make better choices for smaller yards and garden spaces. The flowers last all summer and are beautiful shades of pink and lavender with a bluish-tinged foliage. Some gardeners choose Petite Polly plants for containers and pots.

Creating and Decorating with the Rose of Sharon Bush

Rose of Sharon is a beautiful flowering shrub- but how can you use or display the exotic flowers from the bush? These flowers simply do not last if picked and put in water for an arrangement or bouquet, so they are best enjoyed in your yard, naturally.

You may choose to use containers for shrubs, so you can display them in different locations such as in your sun porch with a string of holiday lights!

White rose of Sharon blooms.

You may opt to use a single shrub as a focal point in a yard, adding an LED spotlight to highlight and draw attention to your bush- particularly when it is time for it to bloom.

Add rose of Sharon behind other plants and shrubbery for a mixed border that brings a unique and tropical curb appeal to the property.

Another idea is to trim and prune the bush to look like a formal hedge or privacy border around your home or property. Try training your plant around a trellis, fence, or against an exterior wall for a unique climber that loves the sun.

Rose of Sharon Bush FAQs

What could kill my Rose of Sharon bush?

The fastest way to kill a rose of Sharon bush is by watering it from the top, getting the foliage wet in the process. Always water into the soil surrounding the main trunks of your bush. If you water the foliage, fungus grows and causes spots on the leaves turning them brown.

Should I prune my Rose of Sharon bush?

If your shrub has not been trimmed or pruned in years, yes- go ahead and carefully prune it. If your rose of Sharon is older, trimming provides the chance for new growth and hardiness. Prune in late Fall, cutting branches and limbs until your bush is about one-third shorter than before you pruned.

Blue rose of Sharon blooms.

Do birds and bees like Rose of Sharon bushes?

Yes- the vibrant and exotic flowers attract pollinators, like butterflies and birds. Hummingbirds are especially fond of the varieties with red flowers!

Where to Buy Rose of Sharon

Wondering where to buy your own rose of Sharon shrub? While you may choose to germinate seeds to grow your own shrub, plants are perhaps the most effective and successful route for home gardeners to take. If you are planting seedlings later, make sure to keep the roots moist (not wet) and keep them in the fridge for storage for up to two weeks.

Another way to delay final planting is to bury the seedlings in a shallow soil trench until you are ready to plant.

Bring a Touch of the Tropics to Your Garden Space!

A rose of Sharon in bloom is an impressive sight. The flowers are vibrant and colorful- bringing a distinctive tropical flair to your landscape, yard, or garden. It’s sure to become a favorite bloom you look forward to each year!

A pink rose of Sharon bloom.

To learn about other kinds of flowers you can grow or use in floral arrangements, read our flowers blog posts.