Plant of the month series August 2018 for Boulder Colorado landscapes
AUGUST: Hibiscus syriacus aka Althea aka Rose of Sharon
Rose of Sharon is a member of the Mallow family of shrubs and is native to south-central and southeast China. I has been widely distributed as an ornamental shrub in the landscape for several hundred years and was found in Europe as early as the 1500’s. It is a hardy shrub, capable of handling some drought once established, and can handle the wind and weather of Longmont Colorado landscapes.
It has either single or double blooms, comes in various colors ranging from white, red, pink, purple, and lavender. Some cultivars are multi-colored. Individual flowers can be short lived, lasting only a day or two, but the plant continues to put out numerous flower buds that allows it to bloom profusely all summer long. It prefers full sun, and blooms best there, but can handle partial shade too.
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Branches are thin and gray, and stems and branches to not branch very much unless pruned. It is a rounded shrub that can grow to 12’ in the right conditions, though most stay under 8’. It can easily be pruned into a vase shape, keeping excess branches at the base cleared out. They have even been offered as “patio trees” where all but a globe is left at the top of a standard tree trunk, and then left in a pot to be moved around on a patio as desired.
Rose of Sharon is a rather desirable and easy to grow shrub, making it popular among novice gardeners. It is easy to care for and has showy color. Give one a try in your landscape today if you don’t already have a few!