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Growing Rose of Sharon and Overwintering Tips

Written by WG on September 25th, 2008

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), for many, is an easy to grow shrub that they would consider more of a weed than a plant!

For others however, they can have some problems, so let’s go over Rose of Sharon’s needs and how to best overwinter them if you’re in a very cold northern climate.

Rose of Sharon Basic Growing Needs:

Do well in Zones 10 to 5 which means they can tolerate winter cold from 40° F (4.4 ° C) down to -20° F (-29° C)

Prefers full sun and heat, and tolerates some drought. If in a very hot area, afternoon shade may be a benefit

Likes moist, well-drained soil with regular water but not too much. They don’t like soggy or wet soil, and can have yellowing leaves and leaf drop if soil is a heavy clay or doesn’t drain well. In that case, allow plants to dry out a bit in between waterings

Try not to fertilize after July. You don’t want to encourage lots of soft growth that will be harmed by frost in the fall

Where winters drop to -10° F (-23° C) or colder, protect plants with winter mulch

Growth Habit:

A deciduous shrub (but can be an evergreen in warmer climates)

Grows to 12 feet (3.5 m) tall with a spread of 3 to 6 feet (1 to 1.8 m)

Flowers all summer long into early fall (until frost) in shades of white, pink, soft red, mauve, and violet blue

Flowers attract hummingbirds

Leafs out in the spring much later than most other deciduous shrubs which can cause a false alarm for gardeners who think their plants may have died. Patience in this case is the best remedy

Foliage drops in the fall without coloring

Prune to shape in the first two years of growth, trimming lightly thereafter to maintain a compact form. If the plant needs a heavy pruning, the best time to do so is in late winter, early spring. Light shaping or pruning can be done at any time

Overwintering Rose of Sharon:

Rose of Sharon will do better if left in the ground to overwinter

One of the biggest tips is placement! Make sure your plants are out of direct heavy winds

Mulch heavily with leaves in fall and use burlap around the bush in the winter to help insulate it. You may not want to mulch until your ground is frozen so as not to attract voles or mice to the mulch. But if they have not been a problem, you can go ahead and mulch after the leaves have fallen from the trees.

Reliable snow cover all winter helps insulate them from the cold

Don’t prune it until spring….that way you can cut off any winter die back that you might get. They also bloom better after a good pruning in the spring as they bloom on new wood

For more Gardening Tips and Gardening Advice visit our main gardening website at Weekend Gardener Monthly Web Magazine –

Have good week!


22 Comments so far ↓

  1. Anonymous says:

    very helpful info!!!

  2. Basil Becky says:

    I have heard that the Rose of Sharon seedlings that are growing up near my white bush, wiil not bllom. Is this true?

  3. Hilary says:

    Hi Becky,

    No that's not true.

    Rose of Sharon reseed themselves quickly, and those seedlings will flower.

    I have heard some people say that the pink varieties flower better than the white, but they will flower.

  4. Basil Becky says:

    Thank you we will see…I have given them to a couple friends if they still invite me over we will know they flowered!


  5. Hilary says:

    They better invite you over anyway!!

    How nice to share your plants with them.

  6. Basil Becky says:

    I come from a long line of women who feel the need to share the planta they own. It is a good thing.

  7. Barb says:

    I have a rose of sharon bush. It grows every year and gets loaded with buda. BUT, they never open. I have it in part sun/shade. It is the sunniest spot in my yard. Any ideas why the buds won’t open ?!

  8. Barbara says:

    I have two rose of sharon plants that are full of flower buds but the buds do not open. This has happened two years in a row. Do you know why?

  9. brenda mckinley says:

    I have several rose of sharon’s that are in very good shape and bloom every year. How do I get starters off of these to plant around my pool for privacy?

  10. Hilary says:

    Hi Brenda,

    You can propagate Rose of Sharon from softwood cuttings in the early summer, or from seeds which germinate readily.

    Just keep in mind that plants grown from seed may not be like the parent.

    Rose of Sharon tends to self-seed quite easily and can sometimes become a problem!

    If you want step-by-step instructions on how to take softwood cuttings read our article:

    How to Take Softwood Rose Cuttings

    I know it’s about roses, but the steps are exactly the same for softwood Rose of Sharon cuttings.

    Good luck!

  11. Hilary says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Well there are two reasons why Rose of Sharon buds won’t open:

    1. Rose of Sharon needs to be fertilized regularly. So you can either feed a couple of times a month, or every time you water, use some balanced fertilizer like a 5-5-5, or a 10-10-10 at half strength.

    If you are fertilizing regularly however, then you may have an insect problem which brings us to reason number two:

    2. The bud drop could also be caused by gall midge. Place some buds in a sealable plastic bag. After a day or two, you might see a very small yellowish worm-like larva on the plastic.

    If you do, you can control this pest with Neem oil sprays. Just follow the instructions on the label.

    Hope this helps!

  12. mary says:

    how can I control the over growth of my crazy rose of sharon? can i kill new growth with weed poisoning?

  13. anna says:

    hi, i heard that the rose of Sharon and the hibiscus are the same thing and if so i have a hibiscus and was wondering if i could plant it permanently in the ground i live in southern Ontario so would it die from cold

  14. Ruth Harris says:

    I have 3 Rose of Sharon bushes that were planted 3 years ago and are now 9′ tall and this year my little dog eats the flowers that have dropped. Can they be harmful to dogs. This is now late Sept. and the plants are still loaded with buds. I love my Rose of Sharon bushes!

  15. M McGLynn says:

    My roses of Sharon never bloom into flowers They get buds but have not bloomed in years. Any suggestions.

  16. Sheila says:

    As my rose of sharon leaves are just now coming out, there is some black stuff on them. I guess it’s like a powder or something. Can you help me?

  17. ANN says:


  18. Paula says:

    How do I make a rose of Sharon shape into a bush instead of a tree?

  19. Peggy L says:

    I have some well established Rose of Sharon that have been healthy and blooming for years. This year for the first time,something is eating the top leaves and some of the flower buds. I know it’s not Japanese Beetles. I never see anything on the plants, day or night, but the leaves keep getting chewed. What is going on?

  20. Clarence Butler says:

    Can a rose of sharon be relocated to a new spot? Our friend wants to dig his out and we would like to plant it in our yard. The plant has been in its current location for sometime but it is only about 6′ tall and 3′ wide. If we can relocate it how would you recommend doing it?

  21. Sandy says:

    My Rose of Sharon is 3 years old and about 2 ft. tall. It has not bloomed yet. Is this normal? How long before it blooms?

  22. angela says:

    I have 2 bushes one with white flowers and another with mixture of purple and pink. Now you say they attrack hummingbirds. I have never seen hummingbirds go near them, just bees . Is there something i can do to get the birds also?

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