Rose of Sharon "trees" (Hibiscus syriacus) are actually classified by botanists as shrubs, but they can be trained by pruning so as to form one main trunk (thereby becoming tree-like). They are beautiful plants and especially useful to gardeners seeking continual color in the landscape, as they bloom late in the growing season when most shrubs are long past their floral heyday. Plant Hibiscus syriacus as a complement to shrubs that bloom in spring and early summer.
Grow rose of Sharon trees as follows:
- Install them in full sun. They tolerate partial shade but will not flower as well there.
- Give them rich soil and keep it evenly moist.
- Provide a soil pH that is acidic to slightly alkaline.
Most rose of Sharon trees grow to be about 8 to 10 feet tall, with widths of half that. The trees can make for a splendid hedge when in bloom if it is color you want from a hedge. But, being deciduous, they will not screen out prying eyes year-round. Another use for rose of Sharon is as a specimen plant for late summer. Flowers are most often white, pink, bluish, or bi-colored. But, through grafting, there are even varieties that bear multiple colors on the same plant.
Here's what you need to know about growing the four types of rose of Sharon trees in your garden.
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Blue flowers are highly sought after; this soothing color lends itself well to meditation gardens, although many people simply value it as a "cool" color. Plant developers have put a great deal of energy into expanding the horticultural blue palette. 'Blue Chiffon' rose of Sharon trees don't produce true-blue flowers, but we will grant they are a "bluish" color. Still, because the flowers are double (another sought-after quality), their beauty is unquestionable.
True-blue or not, the color of the flowers combines well both with orange flowers such as torch lilies (Kniphofia) and so-called "black" plants (plants with dark foliage), such as Sedum 'Chocolate Drop'.
Blue Chiffon blooms from mid-summer into autumn. What makes the flower so beautiful is the presence of inner petals that surround the stamen. These inner petals give the flowers a frilly look.
Another variety with blue flowers is 'Blue Satin.' The Blue Satin shrub's flower can be much bluer than that of the Blue Chiffon, but do not get your hopes up too high. This type, along with the Blue Bird, too often turns out to be more of a lavender-blue than a true blue. Until developers produce a reliably true-blue rose of Sharon, gardeners are at the mercy of the luck of the draw.
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Like Blue Chiffon, the variety known as 'Sugar Tip' bears double flowers (in this case, pink in color). But with Sugar Tip rose of Sharon trees, it is not just about the flowers. Their foliage is also attractive, as these plants have variegated leaves. The leaves have a creamy-white edging; in fact, it is to the leaves that the name of Sugar Tip refers.
Most varieties of rose of Sharon are valued mainly for their flowers, but do not underestimate the importance of attractive foliage. Such "foliage plants" as this variety will "be there for you" after many a garden bloom has become little more than a memory.
Pink Chiffon has similar flowers but lacks the bi-colored leaves.
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White Rose of Sharon Trees
A variety with a solid-white flower is great for people who are making moon gardens and who wish to be purists in their plant selection. They will often want to grow a variety such as 'White Chiffon': It lacks a distinct throat, the petal being totally white.
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Rose of Sharon Varieties With Bi-Colored Blooms
But many of the varieties with white flowers are technically bi-colored: The majority of the petal is white, but the part near the center that forms the "throat" is a darker color. For example, in the case of 'Red Heart,' the throat is red. Those who consider white too plain a color will prefer such bi-colored varieties.
Bi-colored flowers come in other color combinations, too. Many types of pink rose of Sharon have flowers with darker-colored throats (red, for example). 'Aphrodite' is especially pretty. A compact variety (6 to 8 feet tall), its flowers are ruffled. The color is a rich pink, and the throat a dark red. Lovers of low-maintenance landscaping will be glad to hear that this is a sterile cultivar, so there will not be any seedlings to remove.