Rose of Sharon: How to Grow Rose of Sharon
Thinking of a plant that can be a great addition to your beautiful garden and also provide you with many benefits and uses? Well, think no more!
In this blog, I will introduce you to the flowering shrub called the Rose of Sharon. Its beautiful features will not just amaze your eyes. It will also be helpful to your health and body.
Read on to find out how you can grow your own and start benefiting from this amazing plant.
Rose of Sharon is a deciduous flowering shrub that belongs to the family of hibiscus. Since every hibiscus flower represents delicate beauty, the rose of Sharon is mostly used as an ornamental plant, especially in landscaping.
It features large and showy blooms and a striking stamen on its center. Its color ranges from lavender, light blue, pink, red, and white. Because of its large flowers, it can attract common pollinators like bees, birds, and butterflies.
Rose of Sharon starts to bloom during the late summer or early fall season. Most growers find it easy to take care of and grow since it can resist most common plant conditions and can propagate on its own.
It is perfect to plant in shrub borders and also a great flowering shrub for hedges or screens and foundation planting.
Facts About Rose of Sharon
The rose of Sharon, or Hibiscus syriacus, is a shrub or small tree that belongs in the hibiscus or mallow family called Malvaceae. This flowering shrub is native to eastern Asia, specifically to the south-central and southeastern part of China. It then became popular in most parts of Asia, even in the United Kingdom and the USA.
The rose of Sharon has many other names. Its common name is shrub althea, but in other locations, it has different names. In the United Kingdom, it’s called rose mallow; in China, it is Chinese hibiscus; and in Korea, it is called Korean rose.
In South Korea, the rose of Sharon serves as their national flower. It appears in various state emblems and is even mentioned in their national anthem since the flower has a poetic comparison to the country.
Aside from cultural aspects, the rose of Sharon also has Biblical references. Most Bible scholars believe that this flower is the one mentioned in the Songs of Solomon and symbolizes Jesus Christ.
Most growers agree that taking care of the rose of Sharon is easy, but it depends on your experience.
The rose of Sharon is a hardy deciduous shrub. It means that it sheds foliage every time its growing season ends. During that time, make sure to prune some parts of it to maintain its shape, especially if you are into landscaping.
As mentioned, the rose of Sharon is native to eastern Asia, but it can also adapt and grow in most USDA plant hardiness areas. It thrives best on moist but well-drained soil in full sun exposure or partly shaded areas. It can also tolerate air pollution, drought, heat, humidity, and any types of soil condition except extremely dry and soggy soils.
Even if it can survive some common plant conditions, it can’t resist common pest problems. Its major pest problem is the infestation of Japanese beetles, though it can easily be controlled since Japanese beetles are more visible than other insects.
If you spot one, you can simply pick them by hand and drop them in a container with soapy water. Since this insect breathes on its skin, the soapy water will coat its body and suffocate it until it dies.
Most species of rose of Sharon grow in suburban areas and can naturally scatter its seeds. If you are following a landscape display, make sure to watch where its seeds spread to avoid it from growing in unwanted areas.
Also, to make sure you grow the best blooms, try adding organic compost or mulch to keep it healthy as it matures.
An average height of a rose of Sharon shrub is about 2 to 4 meters or 7 to 12 feet. It stands upright and bears large trumpet-shaped flowers. Its stems and branches can grow longer and straighter from its usual size of 1.5 to 4 centimeters or 0.5 to 1.5 inches above the ground if you maintain pruning.
The leaves of the rose of Sharon have three distinct lobes and toothed margins. It grows during the late season or growing stage, or during May. Its colors are green or yellowish-green. It alternately appears on the branches and measures 7.5 centimeters or 3 inches long.
Rose of Sharon's flowers have a pistil and a stamen at the center, just like any other hibiscus flower, and are surrounded by 5 petals. They normally measures about 7.5 centimeters or 3 inches in diameter, and come in colors of white, purple, pink, red, and blue, while some cultivars have bicolor.
The flowers will start to bloom from July through September. Throughout the summer, the flowers can grow up to 10 centimeters or 4 inches wide. This makes it one of the most blooming plants during the summer season compared to other flowering plants.
A matured stem of a rose of Sharon is flexible enough to carry the weight of its large blooms. But after the flowering season, it will start to bend over.
Fruit Shape, Size, and Color
Though most varieties produce fruits, some modern cultivars are fruitless. Typically, the fruit of the rose of Sharon is ornamentally attractive and appear in 5-valved dehiscent capsules in colors of green or brown.
The fruit persists throughout the winter season, and starts to shatter during the dormant season. Then it will easily spread its germinating seeds around the parent plant’s base and form colonies in time.
Those reniform seeds measure 2 to 4 millimeters long with a row of long and yellowish-white hair on the dorsal line.
Rose of Sharon Varieties
There are lots of rose of Sharon varieties, and they all have unique features from each other. Some of the factors you need to consider before you start deciding on which variety to plant is your available garden space and the varieties’ physical features, especially if you have a personal preference for your landscape display.
To help you pick the right one, here are some of the known varieties you can choose from.
This cultivar grows double flowers with purple and bluish colors. Blue Chiffon starts to bloom from mid-summer to autumn. One of the unique features that make it stand out from other varieties is the presence of inner petals surrounding the stamen. Blue Chiffon can grow from 8 to 12 feet tall, and can spread about 6 to 10 feet.
The variegated leaves of this cultivar have creamy-white edging that resembles sugar, which is why it is named Sugar Tip. This seedless semi-dwarf has pink double flowers and blue-green leaves. It can grow from 6 to 8 feet tall, and spreads from 4 to 6 feet wide.
As its name implies, this variety has solid white flowers. You can't distinguish the center partly because all the petals are covered in pure white. White Chiffon grows from 6 to 8 feet tall and spreads from 4 to 6 feet wide.
It earned its name because of its dark red center part that resembles a heart, which has become more visible since it is surrounded by white petals.
Newbie landscapists love how low maintenance this plant is. Since it is a sterile cultivar or a plant that can't cross-pollinate, you won't need to remove its seedlings often unlike other cultivars.
How to Grow Rose of Sharon
Though a rose of Sharon can tolerate any soil type like clay, loam, and sand, it will thrive better when planted in rich soil. The average soil pH it needs is from 5.5 to 7.5.
Being a summer flowering plant, it loves the sun so much. Be sure to place your shrub under the full sun for better growth. To avoid fungal damage, especially to old bushes, don't place it on shaded areas since it can increase the moisture level, allowing fungi and pests to grow.
Temperature & Humidity
Rose of Sharon is a heat lover. It can survive in hot climates, and won't easily die because of dryness. It can also tolerate different humidity conditions, which makes it easier to take care of.
Most varieties of rose of Sharon are drought-tolerant, especially if it is already mature. So you don’t need to worry about watering them daily, especially during the rainy season.
The leaves and flowers won’t easily dry even if it only receives a little amount of water. Its leaves may be more prone to dry and fall from overwatering.
Adding fertilizer to maintain your shrub’s growth and health is recommended. But for established ones, you may not consider it.
For newly-grown shrubs, you may use slow-release fertilizers and allow your plant to feed it during late winter or early spring. You can continue using fertilizers for up to four months until the plant fully matures.
If you prefer organic growth, you can put compost into the soil instead and place it near the plant's roots. Don’t forget to water it afterward.
Transplanting is one of the methods you need to do to help your rose of Sharon grow well. Before transplanting, check the location if it has good drainage and full sun to partial shade exposure. Make sure that this spot is your preferred permanent location. Once the location is set, you can now start removing the plant from its container and transfer it to its new location.
Aside from the place, proper timing is also important. In southern regions, the ideal time to transplant rose of Sharon is during the fall season. While in the northern regions, the springtime is ideal to have enough time to establish the plant before the winter season.
Remember that you can plan the time of transplanting the same way as when you had your planting time.
In reality, the rose of Sharon does not need pruning aside from removing occasionally damaged or dead branches. But if you are into landscaping and would like to maintain a specific shape, you must plan the pruning schedule as early as spring to make time for growth.
The rose of Sharon blooms on the newly-grown branch during the current season, so don't worry if you think you might have removed the flower buds during the early pruning as it won’t affect them.
The rose of Sharon is a multi-stemmed shrub but through pruning, you can train it to only have one main trunk like a tree, which makes other people call it the rose of Sharon “tree.”
There are many ways on how you can propagate the rose of Sharon. It can be from seed planting, layering, stem cutting, and even cloning the original plant. But the most common is stem cutting.
To propagate by stem cutting, here's a simple guide you can follow:
1. You need to cut some pencil-wide branches that still have several leaf buds or leaves. Start cutting the stem at an average of 4 to 6 inches long. After that remove the leaves or the leaf buds from the bottom of the stem.
2. Then, you need to dip the end of the stem using rooting hormone. After that, you can plant the bottom half of each stem.
3. In each pot, place a piece of clear plastic over the top. Then water it well.
4. After watering, place the pots in a shaded area to receive indirect lighting. Check often if the potting mixture stays moist. If needed, you can try to add more water, but avoid getting the soil soggy. After seven days, you can remove the plastic.
5. Within one to two months, check the cuttings by pulling the stems gently to know if it has rooted. If it has, then you should see new leaves form on the stems.
6. Wait for it to grow larger, a growth of 2 inches is enough before you can plant them in your garden.
Rose of Sharon Health Benefits
Aside from its beautiful appearance, the rose of Sharon offers lots of health benefits as well. Only a few people know that we can consume the rose of Sharon, especially its leaves, flowers, and roots into our body and it is good for our health.
It is rich in vitamin C and anthocyanin, a kind of antioxidant. Some of its properties are also good to treat stomach-related and skin-related diseases.
Uses of Rose of Sharon
The rose of Sharon is more popular as an ornamental plant. Little did we know that it is not just appealing to the eyes but also to the stomach and the entire body.
One of the little known facts about this plant is it is edible, especially the leaves, flowers, and roots.
You can consume its young leaves whether raw or cooked. Because of its mild flavor, it can be a great addition to your salad bowls. You can also make tea not just from its leaves but also from its flowers.
Similar to its leaves, it doesn't matter if you want to consume it raw or cooked. The mucilaginous texture and mild flavor of its flowers can also make it another addition in salads.
The roots of the rose of Sharon are edible as well but fibrous.
Stuffed Rose of Sharon Recipe
It is interesting to find out that the rose of Sharon just does not serve aesthetic purposes. It is way more beneficial to the body and health. Because of its proven health benefits, there are also delicious recipes invented aside from tea or decoction which you can add to your diet.
One of the easiest recipes you can learn and try is the stuffed rose of Sharon. Here’s how you can do it:
- 1 cup of cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup of plain yogurt
- 20 coarsely chopped fresh edible rose of Sharon petals
- Herbs and some spices of your choice (optional)
1. First, process the cottage cheese in a blender until it becomes smooth.
2. Then, transfer it to a nonmetallic bowl.
3. Add yogurt and flower petals, then stir. You can also add herbs and seasonings like chopped green onions, fresh basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.
4. Spoon the dip into the center of the flower.
5. Next, garnish it with chopped petals.
6. And lastly, cover it and refrigerate overnight to achieve the best flavor.
Since the ancient times, people have been using the rose of Sharon as a treatment for some common diseases. Its leaves and flowers can be made as decoction because of its diuretic, expectorant, ophthalmic, and stomachic properties. It can also be used as a treatment for itch, other skin diseases, and dizziness.
The bark can also be made as a decoction to cure abdominal pain, diarrhea, and dysmenorrhea. The dried bark is used to treat fever and can also be used as an antidote to heal internal diseases.
As written in the Korean herbal medicine book, you can even brew the bark of the rose of Sharon to help stop bleeding and quench thirst.
Aside from culinary and medicinal uses, the rose of Sharon is also used for other purposes. It is also used to make cordage and paper. Its leaves can also be used to make hair shampoo. Dyes are also extracted from their colorful flowers.
Women also use the rose of Sharon as a hair accessory. The Tahitian and Hawaiian ladies place it behind their ears to signify a specific meaning according to which ear it is on. If the flower is placed behind the left ear, it means that the women wearing it are already in a relationship or married. If behind the right ear, it means that the woman is still available, and waiting for her partner for the next dance.
Rose of Sharon won’t just provide you with a beautiful addition to your garden but you can also use it to add to your healthy diet. With all its significance and health benefits, for sure, you are more motivated now to take care of your very own rose of Sharon shrub in your garden.
Every type of grower, experienced or beginner, can be successful in taking care of this plant. It is quite low maintenance and can also resist any type of condition. I hope this simple guide about the rose of Sharon has helped you learn more on how to properly take care of it and know about the interesting features this plant has to offer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Rose of Sharon edible?
The flowers, leaves, and roots of the rose of Sharon are proven to be edible and can be consumed by our body. There are even several recipes created where the rose of Sharon is the main ingredient, such as the stuffed rose of Sharon and the cheese-stuffed rose of Sharon.
Its leaves have a similar taste to lettuce. If you don’t have one but a rose of Sharon, it can be a good substitute to use in sandwiches, salads, and other recipes where lettuce is needed.
Aside from delicious and healthy meals, it is also safe to use as herbal medicine to bring relief to your body.
How long does a rose of Sharon last?
The rose of Sharon is a perennial plant, which means it can live for more than two years and it persists in many growing seasons. A typical rose of Sharon shrub starts to bloom around midsummer. It will continue to bloom throughout the fall or until the cold season ends.
Can you make tea out of Rose of Sharon?
During the early times, people brewed the leaves and flowers of the rose of Sharon to make herbal tea. It is still used these days because of its proven health benefits.