Rose Of Sharon Winter Care: Preparing Rose Of Sharon For Winter


By: Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

Hardy in zones 5-10, rose of sharon, or shrub althea, allows us to grow tropical looking blooms in non-tropical locations. Rose of sharon is usually planted in the ground but it can also be grown in containers as a lovely patio plant. One problem with growing rose of sharon in a pot is that it can get quite large, with some species growing up to 12 feet (3.5 m.). Another problem with rose of sharon in pots is that it may not be able to survive harsh winters without suitable care. That said, winter care for rose of sharon planted in the ground may be required. Continue reading to learn more about overwintering rose of sharon.

Preparing Rose of Sharon for Winter

While generally we are not thinking about winter in July, it’s important to know not to fertilize these shrubs after this month. Fertilizing too late in summer can cause tender new growth to grow, which can be damaged by frost later. It also wastes the plant’s energy on this new growth, when it should be putting energy into developing strong roots that can withstand the winter chill.

Rose of sharon plants bloom in late summer to early autumn. In October, the flowers fade and develop into seed pods. The seeds that develop are a source of winter food for goldfinches, titmice, cardinals, and wrens. The remaining seeds drop close to the parent plant in the winter and may germinate in spring, creating colonies of the shrub.

To prevent unwanted plants, deadhead rose of sharon flowers in late fall. You can also collect these seeds for later plantings by putting nylon pantyhose or paper bags over the developing seed pods. When the pods split open, the seeds will be caught in the nylon or bags.

Rose of Sharon Winter Care

In most zones, preparing rose of sharon for winter is not necessary. In zone 5, though, it’s a good idea to add a heap of mulch over the plant crown for protecting rose of sharon in winter. Potted rose of sharon may need winter protection as well. Either heap mulch or straw over potted plants or wrap with bubble wrap. It’s most important that the plant crown be protected in colder climates. Protecting rose of sharon in winter when it’s planted in areas of high wind may also be necessary.

Since rose of sharon blooms on new wood, you can lightly prune, as needed, throughout the year. Any heavy pruning should be done as part of your rose of sharon winter care regiment in February and March.

Rose of sharon leafs out later in spring than many other shrubs, so if you cannot get out to prune it in February or March, just do it before new growth begins in spring. Do not do heavy pruning of rose of sharon in autumn.

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Read more about Rose Of Sharon


Rose of Sharon, a flower shrub shrouded in the mysteries of the past

Rose of Sharon, sometimes hyphenated to Rose-of-Sharon, is a delightful summer-blooming garden shrub.

Rose of Sharon key facts

NameHibiscus syriacus
Family – Mallow family (Malvaceae)
Type – summer shrub

Foliage – deciduous
Flowering – May through Oct/Nov
Exposure – full sun, tolerates part sun

This blooming shrub has been listed as noteworthy by ancient Greek men of science. Its beauty led it to be cultivated in gardens of Mesopotamia and the Renaissance saw it spread across Europe.


Rose of Sharon Growth

The rose of Sharon grows as an upright, bushy shrub, although it can also be pruned into a more tree-like shape. It's a deciduous plant that has simple, three-lobed green leaves covering its branches from early spring through fall. The rose of Sharon in fall loses its leaves, showing only bare branches and stems during winter.

A newly planted rose of Sharon might experience some die-back of the current season's stems or small branches during winter, but an established plant generally comes through winter undamaged. Most plants, including those that die-back a bit during winter, usually greet spring with a burst of new growth. At maturity, a rose of Sharon may be 8 to 10 feet tall with a 6- to 8-foot spread.


How to Grow Rose of Sharon

After planting your rose of Sharon, add a layer of mulch to help keep moisture in the soil and prevent weeds from sprouting. Hibiscus syriacus likes fertilizer with plenty of phosphorus, which is the “K” in the ratio shown on the fertilizer's label. Look for a timed-release fertilizer so you won't have to feed again for a few months.

Avoid overfeeding rose of Sharon, which can cause the leaves to turn brown or yellow and drop. Over-fertilizing can also encourage the leaves to grow at the expense of flowers.

Rose of Sharon makes a lovely addition to a wildlife garden, where it will attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Rose of Sharon

'Perfect Storm,' a rose of Sharon relative, is often mistaken for it and can be used in your garden much the same way. Also known as rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos), this bushy perennial has white and pink flowers and dark foliage.

Photo by: Walters Gardens, Inc.

'Perfect Storm,' a rose of Sharon relative, is often mistaken for it and can be used in your garden much the same way. Also known as rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos), this bushy perennial has white and pink flowers and dark foliage.

To use rose of Sharon as a hedge or living fence, plant the shrubs in a straight line. But remember: These deciduous plants drop their leaves in fall, so they won't give you privacy year-round. The plants also make a nice backdrop for shorter shrubs and flowers. Use a single rose of Sharon as a focal point or specimen plant, or let it add height to a flowerbed.

To train your shrub as a small tree, prune the canopy to about one foot above the ground. Prune again each year to maintain the size and shape. Some gardeners prune their Hibiscus syriacus hard every six years to encourage it to produce more blooms.


Light

Rose-of-Sharon grows in full and partial sun. During the hottest summer days, it enjoys partial shade. A patio naturally provides shade throughout the day but still allows the plant to receive some sun. If planted in your yard, you can achieve partial shade by placing the Rose-of-Sharon near taller plants, such as at the very edge of a tree's branch line. Your house may also act as a sun visor. Never place Rose-of-Sharon where it receives less than three hours of sun per day.


Caring for Your Rose of Sharon Bush

At this point, your flowers have all bloomed and radiating with color. The red eye-catching blooms go through this cycle and always keep your shrub bright.

So, you should keep looking after it. This includes dealing with plant pests.

This shrub is pest-resistant but that doesn’t stop some pests from attacking it. For one, the Japanese beetle is one pest that often attacks the rose of Sharon plant.

To maintain the health and color of your shrub, avoid spraying pesticides on it. This can damage the beauty of your flowers and cause them to wither. Instead, handpick the bugs off. This is only necessary when you notice any pest damage to the plant. Regular inspection will save you the trouble.

Remember to water your shrub well into its full growth.


When and How to Prune Rose of Sharon Plants

The best time to prune a rose of Sharon is in early spring, just as the temperature is warming. This can stimulate the growth of new branches which will result in a greater number of flowers.

You can also cut back branches from your rose of Sharon shrub just before winter. This helps to encourage larger flowers when the plant blooms in late summertime.

When pruning at the start of spring, prune branches about a ¼ inch (about ½ cm) above new leaf nodes.

If you trim your rose of Sharon shrub branches to just 2 or 3 buds, you will see larger blooms on your plant in late summer, early fall.

Because rose of Sharon can be an invasive plant, you should trim off dead flowers and remove the seed pods around October time. It is also good to remember that some types of rose of Sharon such as White Chiffon, Aphrodite, and Minerva are sterile and don’t produce seedlings.


Chiffon Hibiscus Series

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Watch the video: Pruning Rose of Sharon


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