Rose of Sharon is a hardy, deciduous shrub that produces showy flowers in shades of red, pink or white. It grows to a height of about 10 feet and is a good addition to a hedgerow or border planting. Home gardeners can increase their supply of this shrub by propagating it using softwood stem cuttings. Expect your rose of Sharon cutting to begin blooming the third summer after you begin the rooting process.
Take softwood cuttings in early summer. To determine if the branches are at the softwood stage, bend one in half. If it breaks, the wood is too green to root. If it doesn't bend, it has grown too woody and is past the point where it will form roots.
Cut softwood branches below the third or fourth leaf node. The leaf node is the point at which the leaf grows and, if placed beneath the soil, the point from which roots will grow. Remove the bottom leaf.
Fill a 2-inch peat pot with a rooting mixture of half peat moss and half horticultural perlite. Water the mixture so that it is damp but not sopping wet. Make a starter hole in the rooting mixture with the end of a dowel, pencil eraser or thick twig. This will keep the powdered rooting hormone on the cutting when you insert it into the rooting mixture.
Dip the bottom end of the cutting into powdered rooting hormone and knock off the excess by tapping it gently on a hard surface. Insert the cutting into the prepared hole. Make sure the bottom leaf node is beneath the surface of the rooting mixture.
Trim off about 1/3 of the surface area of each of the leaves on the cutting. This will make it easier for the cutting to put more of its energy into growing roots.
Make an individual greenhouse by putting several twigs into the pot to hold up a plastic bag and keep it off the leaves. Slip the pot into a clear plastic bag and put it in the shade.
Check the rose of Sharon cutting every few days. Water as needed to keep the rooting medium moist. If you notice condensation on the inside of the plastic bag, open the bag or remove the pot from it for a day or so. Check for the formation of roots after four to six weeks. If the cutting resists coming out of the soil when you pull on it gently, the roots have probably formed.
Plant the rose of Sharon cutting, still in its peat pot, into a protected nursery garden. Completely bury the pot. Any part of it that is left aboveground will wick water away from the roots of the plant. Spread finished compost around the base of the cutting.
Grow the cutting in the nursery bed until the following spring, then transplant it to the desired location in your garden. Fertilize it with all-purpose granulated fertilizer when transplanting the cutting to its final location.