179 Hibiscus syriacusCommon Names: rose-of-Sharon, althea Family: Malvaceae (mallow Family)
The popular rose-of-Sharon (also known as althea or shrub althea) is a long blooming deciduous shrub, getting 6-10 ft (2-3 m) tall and about half as wide. Its distinctive shiny dark green leaves are arranged alternately on the stems. They have three deep lobes, and are toothed along the margins. The flowers may be single or double and come in white, blues, purples, and pinks. Some have a pronounced crimson base. The flowers are usually about 3 in (7.5 cm) across and flared, like most hibiscus or mallow flowers. There are dozens of named cultivars differing in flower color, leaf variegation, and size.
Hibiscus syriacus is native to Asia, from India to China. It is now widely cultivated around the world, and was first introduced into North America before 1600.
CultureRose-of-Sharon is a particularly vigorous and durable shrub, that will grow in many soil types, but prefers deep, fertile, well drained situations. Depending on soil quality, it may benefit from fertilizing. Cut back hard in spring to control size and encourage larger blooms. The carefree rose-of-Sharon usually grows with no attention at all, and probably does better that way! Light: Rose-of-Sharon does best in full sun or high, shifting shade. In very hot climates, it benefits from some afternoon shade. Moisture: Supply an average amount of water. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 9. Propagation: Propagate rose-of-Sharon from softwood cuttings in early summer, or from seeds which germinate readily. However, seed-grown plants may not be like the parent. Rose-of-Sharon may self-seed, and can sometimes be a nuisance.
Rose-of-Sharon is most commonly used in mixed shrub borders, or in a group for its tall, upright shape and summer color. It also makes a fine stand alone specimen. In the landscape, the overall texture of rose-of-Sharon is coarse.
Rose-of-Sharon is a perennial favorite among home gardeners for its ease of care and its large showy flowers that persist for weeks in the hot summertime.
Steve Christman 5/31/06, 2/22/07, 6/23/09