Rose Of Sharon Bushes

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Cultivated in Europe for so long that its Asiatic origins were for a time forgotten, the ornamental shrub Rose of Sharon is rich in both folklore and large flat flowers that are a magnet for songbirds. It's a mainstay in habitat gardens, a wonderful specimen plant, and pruned easily into hedges or trees. Popular in gardens across the world, it is the state flower of Korea. A lover of full sun and organic well-drained soil, it thrives in temperate zones, is adaptable to partial shade, and tolerates a variety of soil conditions.

Several different shrubs, in fact, are known as Rose of Sharon. In the United States, it is Hibiscus syriacus. But in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, Hypericum calcynium is also sometimes called by the same name. Both Hibiscus syriacus, a member of the Mallow family (Malvaceae), and the Hyperciums, members of the St. Johns wort family (Theales), are of the plant division Magnoliophyta. Most commonly, however, references to Rose of Sharon are to Hibiscus syriacus.

Complaints about this deciduous shrub include its propensity to sprout from seed, extended dormancy when grown beyond its natural zones (such as the New England states), a proclivity to trunk cankers in old plants, and poor fall color. The profuse blooms--which come in summer--close up and shrivel and take several days to drop naturally from the bush. The heavy weight of the flowers also bows the flexible stems if the bush is not actively pruned or trained as a small tree.

Rose of Sharon Varieties

Aphrodite, with its single flowers of pink to mauve with a dark magenta eye, is especially popular. A favored double flowerer, Ardens, blooms purple to mauve. Bluebird features blue to lavender single flowers. Diana blooms triploid in white, and the flowers stay open at night, rather than closing up. Minerva also blooms triploid, but in lavender with a red eye. Red Heart produces a single white flower with a red eye.

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