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Rose of Sharon

Varieties of Rose of Sharon Trees


Rose of sharon "trees" (Hibiscus syriacus) are really classified as shrubs, but they can be trained by pruning so as to form one main trunk. Rose of sharon trees are especially useful to those paying attention to 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.

Learn about specific varieties of rose of sharon trees in the first 2 articles below. The third article is a general introduction to this plant, while item 4 discusses its name.

1. "Blue Chiffon" Rose of Sharon

Rose of sharon photo. As the image shows, Blue Chiffon rose of sharon has double blooms.
David Beaulieu

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. I wish I could say that Blue Chiffon rose of sharon trees produce true-blue flowers, but the most I'll grant them is a "bluish" color. Still, because the flowers are double (another sought-after quality), their beauty is unquestionable.

Blue or not, I think the color of the flowers combines well both with orange flowers such as torch lilies and so-called "black" plants (plants with dark foliage), such as 'Chocolate Drop' sedum.

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.

2. "Sugar Tip" Rose of Sharon

Picture of Sugar Tip hibiscus, rose of sharon. As photo shows, hardy hibiscus, variegated.
David Beaulieu

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's not just about the flowers. Their foliage is also attractive, as these plants exhibit variegated leaves. The leaves have a creamy white edging. In fact, it's to the leaves that the name "Sugar Tip" refers.

This variety is a nice addition to the Hibiscus syriacus repertoire. Most varieties are valued mainly for their flowers. But don't underestimate the importance of attractive foliage. Such "foliage plants" will "be there for you," after many a garden bloom has become little more than a memory.

3. Rose of Sharon Information

Lavender rose of sharon picture.
David Beaulieu

Some may take rose of sharon for granted, but without it many a yard would be much the poorer. Rose of sharon tree seedlings are a nuisance, but the plants more than make up for any maintenance they require with a superabundance of showy blossoms that appear just when many yards most need them -- the latter half of summer.

The plants can make for a splendid hedge when in bloom, if it's color you want from a hedge; but, being deciduous, they won't screen out prying eyes year-round.

You can prune Hibiscus syriacus in late winter or early spring, if you wish, since it blooms on new wood. I find this quality makes care easier, since I have more time on my hands in, say, March than I do later in spring (when many shrubs need pruning).

4. The Names, "Rose of Sharon," "Althea"

"Althea" is another of the plant's common names. Althaea, the mallow genus, bears flowers similar to those on Hibiscus syriacus.

Rose of sharon was once thought be indigenous to Syria, thus the origin of the syriacus part of the botanical name. Botanists subsequently learned that this is actually one of our many plants from China but have retained the misleading specific epithet.

The name, "rose of sharon" can be traced back to Song of Solomon 2:1. But while the selection of this name may have been influenced by the mistaken belief in its Middle-Eastern roots, it is no longer thought that the plant mentioned in the Bible was Hibiscus syriacus.

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