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Rose of Sharon

October 6, 2018


What is this plant growing next to our elm tree? It has had many beautiful pink (sometimes white or purple) blooms on it this year. I’m sending a photo of the plant and seed pods. It’s been growing there several years. 

Picture of althea


AnswerYou have a seedling rose-of-Sharon or althea bush growing next to your elm tree. It is obviously happy as it is loaded with blooms. If you want to move it somewhere where it has more room to grow, doing so this fall would be idea. 

September 22, 2018


I potted a rose of Sharon last year and it wintered over in garage.  I have only been here a little over a year and have not been able to get in ground. It came back just fine and is still in pot outside. It has bloomed a little but the last month it had so many buds on it but they are not opening up, just drying and falling off.  The foliage looks good and no bugs that I can see.


AnswerI wonder how large the container is. Rose of Sharon or althea would be much happier in the ground than in a pot.  It is one of those plants that often thrives on neglect once planted.  In a container, it will require much more water and thus more fertilizer, since all nutrition gets leached out. If you can find a spot with full sun to partial shade, plant it in the ground and wait for next year.  Many altheas are still blooming beautifully right now.


October 15, 2016


Our rose of Sharon is growing nicely – when is the proper time to trim it back and how severely can we do so?  It is about as big as we want it in its present spot?  



Althea or Rose of Sharon can be pruned as much or as little as you like in late February, before new growth begins.  Some people want to prune in the fall when they go dormant, but leaving the older growth serves as winter protection for the plant. 



February 20, 2016


I had several Rose of Sharon shrubs at my old home but I never pruned them. Recently I think you recommended that a reader prune his. I have planted 3 at my new home so am wondering why they need to be pruned? 


AnswerThey do not need to be pruned, unless you have a reason to do so.  When pruning I always recommend you answer three questions, why are you pruning, when should you be pruning and then how does the plant need to be pruned.  The why for pruning a rose-of-Sharon is for height control?  It can be a large shrub or a small tree, depending on what you want.  It blooms on the new growth, so if you want to prune it, you do so before new growth begins in late February to early March.


(March 2010)

QuestionCan (or should) Rose of Sharon bushes, gardenia bushes and/or mock orange bushes be pruned and if so, when is the best time to do it?

AnswerWhen pruning any plant there are three questions you need to ask before grabbing the pruning shears: why, when and how? Why do they need to be pruned—have they overgrown their space, do you need a specific shape or size, or has there been any damage to them. Once it has been determined that you need to prune, then know when is the best time. If they are spring bloomers, like mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius), then all pruning should be done AFTER they bloom. Spring blooming plants set flower buds at the end of the growing season. Pruning as soon after flowering will give them ample time to recover before they need to set more flower buds. If your plant blooms in the summer, like the Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) they bloom on the new growth and should be pruned before growth begins—in late February until mid March. Pruning later simply delays the first set of flowers. As with all things there are exceptions to these rules—Gardenia or cape jasmine (Gardenia jasminoides) and big leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) and oak leaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia) bloom in the summer but set flower buds in the fall. Some newer cultivars of gardenia and hydrangea ‘Frost Proof’ gardenia and ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangea actually set flower buds in the fall but also set some flowers on the current season growth. Choosing a plant that fits the location will limit how much it needs to be pruned. If pruning of gardenias or hydrangeas are needed, do so immediately after the first big flush of flowers in the summer.

(May 2009)

QuestionI'd like to know how and when to transplant two Rose of Sharon bushes I have in my front yard. They are at least 5-7 years old. They are in a pretty shaded area and I have an area out in the back that gets more sun and I'd like to put them there. Can you tell me when is the best time to transplant, and are there any specifics I need to know about?

AnswerIf at all possible, try to transplant existing trees and shrubs during the dormant season—November through March. While it is possible to move plants during the growing season, it puts more stress on them and takes a bit longer to recover. I prefer to move hardy plants (such as the Rose of Sharon) in the fall, since this gives them all winter and spring to get their roots established before summer kicks in. For less winter hardy plants like gardenias, azaleas, camellias etc, get them through the bulk of winter and then transplant.

(June 2009)

QuestionI'd like to know how and when to transplant two Rose of Sharon bushes I have in my front yard. They are at least 5-7 years old. They are in a pretty shaded area and I have an area out in the back that gets more sun and I'd like to put them there. Can you tell me when is the best time to transplant, and are there any specifics I need to know about? They are in full leaf now and do bloom a little every season, but I think would be showier in more sun.

AnswerTransplant season is best done while the plants are dormant—between November and February. Althea or Rose of Sharon is a tough plant and probably would survive a summer move, but if you have the option, I would hold off until this fall. Spend some time now preparing the site, removing grass and weeds, amending the soil with some compost and mulch. Then in November, dig and replant. This way, they will have all fall, winter and spring to re-establish roots and should be ready to grow and bloom next season. You can prune them back as much as you want when transplanting, since these plants bloom on the new growth.

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