Rose of Sharon – Care & Pruning

Rose of Sharon is a Beautiful Summer Loving Plant

Colorful, showy flowers appear in summer in shades of white, red, pink and purple on the rose of Sharon bush. Growing rose of Sharon is an easy and effective way to add long lasting summer color with little fuss. The large, showy flowers attract birds, butterflies and other useful pollinators.

How to Grow a Rose of Sharon

Care for rose of Sharon, botanically named Hibiscus syriacus, is minimal. After planting rose of Sharon, this attractive specimen may thrive with neglect. However, some care, especially pruning for size and shape, will likely be needed for this showy shrub to add value to your landscape display.

Also known as shrub Althea, this 4- to 12-foot specimen is a native of eastern Asia that is well adapted to growing in most USDA plant hardiness zones. It often reaches a spread of 10 feet and can be used as part of a growing privacy border.

When planting rose of Sharon in the landscape, consider that older varieties may reseed abundantly. Prepare to remove additional plants appearing in unwanted areas. These can be relocated to a more desirable location or shared with friends.
Shrub Althea is best planted into rich well-draining, slightly acidic soil in a full sun to mostly sun location. The rose of Sharon bush prefers moist, well-draining soil, although it will tolerate most soil conditions except those that are soggy or extremely dry. A top dressing of organic compost or mulch may benefit the rose of Sharon bush.

Ongoing Care for Rose of Sharon

Bud drop can be a problem with growing rose of Sharon. This may be caused in part when the rose of Sharon bush is under stressful conditions, so try to keep the shrub as happy as possible. Too little water or too much fertilization may contribute to bud drop, which seems inherent to the rose of Sharon bush. Monitor conditions on growing rose of Sharon to be rewarded with a long season of large showy single or double blooms.
     Flowers grow on the current year’s growth; early pruning before buds develop can keep the growing rose of Sharon in top form and keep the tree-like shrub in bounds.
     A deciduous shrub, learning how to grow a rose of Sharon and keep it under control is best done with experimentation on your cultivar. Some have attractive drooping branches while others assume an upright form. Care for rose of Sharon can depend on the form taken by your specimen.
     The rose of Sharon shrub flowers on growth from the current year, allowing optimum opportunities for when to prune rose of Sharon. Pruning rose of Sharon shrub may be done in late fall or winter after leaves drop or in early spring before buds form.
Rose of Sharon pruning done later than early spring may cause the loss of some blooms, but those that are not removed will be larger. Learning how to prune a rose of Sharon and when to prune rose of Sharon is simple once you learn the methods.
     Younger shrubs may benefit from a light pruning while older specimens may need more extreme branch removal. When planning to trim a rose of Sharon, stand back and take a look at the overall form. Younger shrubs grow upward and have an erect form, but older specimens may have attractive, drooping branches. To maintain either form when pruning rose of Sharon shrub, remove wood to the first or second node (bump on the limb).
     If growth appears untidy and out of hand, rose of Sharon pruning may need to be further down the stem. Annual rose of Sharon pruning prevents an untidy appearance.

“Younger shrubs may benefit from a light pruning while older specimens may need more extreme branch removal.”

How to Prune a Rose of Sharon

When pruning rose of Sharon shrub, begin by removing any branches that appear dead or damaged from storm or winter damage. Also, remove branches that appear to have gone awry or are growing in the wrong direction. Top, upright growth may be pinched back to encourage the growth of side branches. Oldest and tallest stems can be removed first.

An important step in rose of Sharon pruning is removal of any suckers sprouting from the bottom of the trunk, growing from the roots or spouting in the nearby growing area.

Pruning rose of Sharon shrub will include the removal of older, inner branches that disturb an open and airy appearance. Thin out branches which block sunlight or prevent air circulation through the plant. Remove weak branches further down and only prune back healthy branches to the node which allows the desired appearance. As a rule of thumb, allow 8 to 12 inches between inner branches for the best flowering display.
If your rose of Sharon bush is old and has not been pruned in several years, renewal pruning rose of Sharon shrub offers the opportunity to start over. In late autumn or winter, cut older trunk branches down by two thirds of the tree’s height. Some prune these back even closer to the ground.
This rejuvenation pruning allows a new form to develop in spring when new growth emerges and affords the opportunity to keep up with annual pruning. This type of pruning may result in a loss of blooms the following year, but is well worth the loss for a newly formed shrub.
Whether your pruning chore is only to trim a rose of Sharon or to cut it back severely, you will be rewarded with more vigorous growth and possibly larger flowers the next year.

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