A shrub-like plant which blooms during summer when few other shrubs are in bloom, rose of Sharon, (Hibiscus syriacus), is also known by its Latin name, hibiscus. It produces large, nearly dinner-plate-size red, pink, salmon, purple or white flowers and light green leaves. It is native to the Middle East and commonly grown as potted annual in temperate areas. Hardy in USDA Zones 5B through 9, it will die down to its roots in the colder areas of this range. In climates with mild or frost-free winters, rose of Sharon will bloom all year round.
Widely available in containers, especially during spring and early summer, hibiscus make excellent large container plants. Fast-growing, they can grow to the size of a small bush in a single growing season. Grown thus, they make an excellent screen when several pots are massed together on a deck or patio. Smaller specimens can be scattered throughout the landscape and garden, sometimes gracing outdoor tabletops.
Rose of Sharon can be trained into a small tree, also called a “standard” in the nursery trade. They are trained to a single vertical growing tip until they reach their desired height. The growing tip is they pinched and the plant is allowed to branch out, forming a small tree. Rose of Sharon standards are widely used as patio and deck plants during summer months and overwintered indoors until the following spring.
A prolific-growing and versatile perennial, rose of Sharon will quickly form a thick, impenetrable hedge when planted in the landscape. Even in areas where it dies down to the roots overwinter, it quickly regrows in spring to form a thick hedge. Happiest in partial shade or at least protected from the noon-day sun, hibiscus is tolerant of poor, dry or wet soils, although it prefers moisture over dryness.