Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus, is a late flowering, hardy hibiscus, which brings life and colour to the garden when other plants are past their best. It bears large, trumpet-shaped flowers in pink, white or purple, from late summer to mid-autumn, against a backdrop of dark green, three-lobed leaves.
The name rose of Sharon has a symbolic meaning – in the Bible, the Rose of Sharon represents beauty, and is used to describe the beauty of King Solomon's lover in the book of Song of Solomon. Nowadays, rose of Sharon symbolises love, beauty and healing to Jews and Christians. Some see rose of Sharon as a symbol for Christ.
Also known as the Korean rose and tree hollyhock, rose of Sharon is the national flower of South Korea and appears on several national emblems, as well as their banknotes.
Rose of Sharon relates to only one type of hibiscus. There are several types of hibiscus, including tropical Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, which is typically grown as a house plant. Only Hibiscus syriacus is known as rose of Sharon.
Rose of Sharon can grow to a height and spread of 2m x 2m.
How to grow Rose of Sharon
Rose of Sharon works well in a mixed ornamental border or tropical-style garden. Plant it in a sunny, sheltered spot in moist but well-drained soil. Prune back hard in late spring to encourage bushy growth. In colder regions, it's a good idea to mulch around the base of the roots to protect against frost.
Where to grow rose of Sharon
Grow rose of Sharon in a sunny, sheltered spot such as an ornamental border. Rose of Sharon can also be grown in pots.
How to care for Hibiscus syriacus
Feed rose of Sharon annually in spring, with a slow-release, high potash formula, such as rose food. Mulch in autumn to help maintain soil moisture levels and suppress weeds. Bear in mind that, like all hardy hibiscus, rose of Sharon comes into leaf in late spring to early summer – give it until July before giving up on it.
There's no need to deadhead rose of Sharon.
After three years (or when it's reached a height of around 1.5m), start pruning your rose of Sharon annually to keep in shape. If left unpruned, the outer branches can fall outwards from the weight of the leaves.
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Prune rose of Sharon after flowering, cutting each branch back to a leaf node at a desired height. Removing old wood from the centre of the plant can improve air circulation.
Growing Hibiscus syriacus: problem-solving
Rose of Sharon is relatively trouble-free, and will grow well with a simple annual mulching and pruning.
Advice on buying rose of Sharon
- Choose plants with no signs of disease or pests, with healthy leaves and buds
- Some varieties of rose of Sharon will be available at garden centres but you'll find a wider choice at online retailers.