Double Rose of Sharon: "Sugar Tip"

Variegated Leaves, Double Flowers

Sugar Tip rose of Sharon with its bicolored flowers and variegated foliage.
David Beaulieu

Sugar Tip's main selling points are its bicolored foliage and its double pink flowers. The white-margined leaves give it its name. Like other Hibiscus syriacus plants, it blooms during the second half of the summer, after many shrubs have stopped blooming for the year, meaning it can be an important cog in your planning for sequence of bloom. Such late summer flowering shrubs are useful for filling up the late-season void in floral color and for helping you achieve continuity in your attempts at four-season landscaping.

In addition to these aesthetic benefits, this bush does not produce seedlings like traditional shrub altheas (the seeds from rose of Sharon being regarded as a major nuisance by many growers), which means you avoid the maintenance hassle of pulling out unwanted seedlings. It is also a slower-growing plant than older types of Hibiscus syriacus (which can be a selling point if you landscape in a small space). Rose of Sharon is used in hummingbird gardens and is also a good butterfly plant. All of these are great reasons for learning how to grow this plant.

Plant Type for Sugar Tip Rose of Sharon

Plant taxonomy classifies this double rose of Sharon as Hibiscus syriacus America Irene Scott "Sugar Tip." Sugar Tip is the brand name, while the rarely used America Irene Scott is the cultivar name. Another common name for this species is "shrub althea."

Hibiscus syriacus is a deciduous flowering shrub.

Some people refer to it as "hibiscus tree" or "rose of Sharon tree" because it can be pruned so as to have a single trunk.

Plant Traits

Sugar Tip's double flowers are light pink. Bushes bloom from mid-summer into fall. The flower center is stained a burgundy color, but it is largely hidden by a cluster of smaller, inner petals (also pink in color) that gives this shrub's flowers a frilly appearance.

The stamen is less showy on this type of hibiscus than on many others.

The height of this multi-branched shrub althea is 8 to 12 feet at maturity, with a width not much more than half that. The leaves are variegated: green with a creamy-white color part away around their edges.

Planting Zones, Growing Conditions for Sugar Tip

This shrub althea is best grown in planting zones 5 to 8. Grow this double rose of sharon in full sun and in well-drained, loamy soil enriched with compost.

Uses for Hibiscus Syriacus Sugar Tip

Use this pink rose of Sharon:

Care for Shrub Althea, Pruning

These double rose of Sharon bushes tolerate dry soil reasonably well once established. Mulch shrub althea for weed control and to maintain moisture in the soil. Do not over-water: Yellow foliage on shrub althea can be an indication of too much, rather than too little water. Hibiscus syriacus shrubs are moderately deer-resistant (but very hungry deer will eat them). 

Rose of Sharon flowers on new wood. Hence, Hibiscus syriacus is normally pruned in spring (if, indeed, pruning is deemed necessary, at all). Some may choose to prune shrub althea to shape it or, in the case of old bushes that have lost their vitality, for rejuvenation.