Heat-loving Rose of Sharon perfect for Southeast Texas weather

Heat-loving Rose of Sharon perfect for Southeast Texas weather

Rose of Sharon is such a heat-loving beauty that I can’t help but admire her this time of year.  She not only gives you beautiful flowers but flowers with height.  Another plus for Rose of Sharon is that she blooms later in the summer than some other summer standbys, which have long since given up flowering because of the heat.

The official name of our hardy bloomer in the U.S. is “Hibiscus syriacus.”  Most Americans can easily find this deciduous shrub in whites, pinks and lavenders.

“I am the Rose of Sharon, a rose of the valley.” According to Fern Fisher’s article on the history of Rose of Sharon, the native plains are covered with many wild flowers that grow from bulbs in the open plains of Sharon in northern Israel.  Most of these plants are varieties of crocus, asphodel or narcissus. She adds that “it is generally accepted by Hebrew and Christian scholars that these (crocus, asphodel, narcissus) are the flowers referred to in the Song of Solomon, and not the shrubs the English-speaking world has named Rose of Sharon.”

Nevertheless, here at home in the U.S. the name has stayed with our shrubby Hibiscus syriacus. This deciduous shrub has a bright, blood-red petal center, which many say signifies bloodshed.  Another common name is “shrub althea.” There seems to be many theories as to the native country of shrub althea.  Some sources say she is from Syria, others say from northern Israel, while still others say this beauty is from India and China.

Hibiscus syriacus is the national flower of South Korea. The name of the flower in the Korean language means “immortality.” Women often wear the flowers in their hair. She was overwhelmingly selected by the people of Korea as the floral symbol of their nation during the Japanese colonial era (1910-1945) according to Wiki. Even earlier (918-1392) it was common practice for kings to reward those who successfully passed the civil service examinations with paper Rose of Sharon blooms.

I took a photo in the garden of my Aunt Josephine who says that the bees and birds love her Rose of Sharon. She does have to clip the “volunteers,” which sprout where you may not want them to grow, as the plant seeds drop.  You can count on your shrub to get about 8-10 feet tall and about 4 feet wide.  Although the althea left to its own devices will have multiple trunks, you can train them through pruning to have simply one main trunk.  

She likes planting zones 5-9 and full sun with well-drained soil. If you ever see a fungal development on her leaves, she is telling you that the area is too wet or that there is not enough sun. Today, you can look for new cultivars: Tri-color is an exciting new Rose of Sharon that has pink, purple and red blooms on the same plant. And the blooms are double! Pink Giant is the same height as most but its flowers are 5 inches in diameter in pink with red centers.  Diana is also a wonderful new addition to this plant group. Diana has solid colored flowers in white, with no “throat” of a different color. They stay open at night!

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