Rose Of Sharon: The Hibiscus For Colder Climates

Posted on: 25 July 2016

If you love the look of hibiscus flowers, but don't live in a tropical climate, Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), also called althea, may just be the perfect flowering shrub for your landscape. The profuse single or double flowers appear in late summer in shades of white, pink, rose, purple and blue. They are not as large, but just as beautiful, as those of its tropical cousins.

Where Will Rose of Sharon Grow?

Commonly called "perennial hibiscus," Rose of Sharon has a large range from USDA zones 5 to 9, although it may not do as well in zone 9B as in 9A, due to the moderate winter temperatures. Since this plant is deciduous, it does better in climates that have some freezing temperatures during the winter months so it can go into complete dormancy.

What Are The Best Growing Conditions for Althea?

This shrub prefers full sun, but will grow with some afternoon shade. When not grown in full sun, it can be susceptible to fungal diseases. Althea prefers well drained soil, and actually does not like rich soils, so fertilizing is optional. Established shrubs don't require any fertilizer, and you will sometimes see althea bushes growing and blooming wild on old homestead properties due to its supreme drought tolerance. It really is somewhat of a "plant it and forget it" shrub that thrives on neglect once established.

How Large Does Rose of Sharon Grow?

This plant is considered a tall shrub, growing from 8 to 10 feet tall. Naturally multi-branched, it can have a spread of 4 to 6 feet. Some cultivars have been bred to fit into smaller spaces and only reach 5 to 8 feet tall.

Does Althea Have Pest or Disease Problems?

Althea is nearly pest-free, with the exception of Japanese Beetles, which are easily controlled. If not planted in full sun, it may be susceptible to powdery mildew or other fungal diseases.

Is Rose of Sharon Invasive?

The one drawback to this beautiful, easy-care plant is that it puts out a large volume of seeds that sprout up at will wherever they land. They can be controlled easily by pulling, just like any other weed, or you can simply transplant them to other areas of the garden. Keep in mind, though, that they do not come true from seed, so the seedling you save may not have the same flower as its mother. Its ability to put out so many seedlings has made it a favorite pass-along plant, especially in the South.

Rose of Sharon is a wonderful, carefree blooming plant that is at home in almost any garden. Talk to your local landscape professional about how you can fit this pass-along favorite into your landscape design. Contact a company like Milieu Design to get started.