Rose Of Sharon

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Native to India and East Asia, Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is a popular mid-sized ornamental shrub. Hearty across much of the United States (zones five through eight), it grows from eight to 12 feet tall and about four to six feet wide. If you're looking for more of a tree-like specimen plant, Rose of Sharon's upright growth habits make it a good candidate. If left unchecked in its growth, in maturity, the woody branches arch gracefully.

The large flowers--Rose of Sharon is the national flower of Korea--are a wonderful food source for nonmigratory birds and especially attractive to hummingbirds. The shrub is in fact sometimes called the hummingbird bush and is a must for anyone planning a habitat garden. Ranging from white through pinks and reds and lavenders to purple, five-petaled and hibiscus-like blooms will last for weeks. Blooming continues throughout the summer.

Maintenance is minimal. Rose of Sharon is a sun lover but does well enough in light shade. While it is somewhat resistant to drought, it needs deep watering and good drainage. Soil should ideally be rich in organic matter, but the plant is urban tolerant. That is, it's fairly adaptable to pH levels, pollution, heavy pruning, and compacted soil.

Rose of Sharon: Propagation

Although propagation is most common by soft cuttings, seed collection is easy. The first step is to allow the wide, flat flower heads to fade rather than deadheading the bush. Do not prune or trim after flowering. Immature seed pods are medium green, tear-shaped, and about an inch in diameter. When dry they turn brown and burst open into a star shape--considered by some to be unsightly. Remove the pods from the bush and allow them to dry several more days. The pod can then be opened easily and the seeds--which are reddish brown discs about a quarter inch across--can be removed.

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