How to prune rose of sharon into tree

How to Prune a Rose of Sharon Bush to Create a Rose of Sharon Tree | Home Guides

By Ruth de Jauregui Updated November 04, 2019

The hardy rose of Sharon bush (Hibiscus syriacus) produces large, beautiful flowers in gardens across U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. This 8- to 12-foot tall shrub spreads 4 to 10 feet wide when left to its normal growth pattern. Its upright habit allows you to prune it into an accent tree suited to a small garden, courtyard or patio.

Rose of Sharon Hedge

If left unpruned, the rose of Sharon grows into an upright 12-foot-tall shrub with arching branches. The 4-inch-wide single or double flowers cover the shrub in white, pink, red, lavender, blue and purple from late summer through fall. Some cultivars self-seed heavily, so a neglected shrub and its seedlings can take over the garden.

On the positive side, you can use a row of rose of Sharon shrubs as a tall flowering privacy hedge. By selecting sterile or non-seeding cultivars, such as 'Aphrodite,' 'Blue Satin,' 'Diana,' 'Helena,' 'Minerva' or 'Sugar Tip,' you can avoid its invasive tendencies. In addition to its pink double flowers, 'Sugar Tip' features variegated green leaves edged in white.

Pruning Rose of Sharon

By controlling the shrub with pruning, you can enjoy the rose of Sharon leaves and flowers as a focal point in a small garden or courtyard. Pruning it into a single or multi-stemmed tree form allows you to maximize a small space and even provide a little dappled shade for a bistro set or bench.

Prune the shrub after the leaves drop in fall or in early spring. Put on shoes, long pants, long sleeves, gloves and safety goggles and keep a bucket of Lysol handy for dipping the blades of your loppers and anvil pruners.

Begin at the base of the shrub. There may be one main stem or several stems. Carefully remove the weakest stems and all the branches, up to approximately half the height of the shrub. Use caution; rose of Sharon has thorns. Trim back the upper branches by no more than one-third to shape the new "tree." Monitor the tree over the summer and fall. Remove any branches or leaves that appear on the trunk.

Planting a Rose of Sharon

When adding a new rose of Sharon to your garden, dig a hole at the same depth as the grower's pot and twice as wide. Unless the soil is extremely poor, avoid adding compost or other amendments. Backfill with the excavated soil, tamp gently and water thoroughly.

You can also plant a rose of Sharon in a large container. The dwarf cultivar 'Lil' Kim' is particularly suited to container gardening. It only reaches 4 feet tall and equally as wide, with showy white flowers with red centers.

Care and Feeding

While rose of Sharon is tolerant of soil types and pollution, making it a good choice for an urban garden, it prefers moist, well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged. Add a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant and pull it back 4 inches from the main stem or trunk.

Apply a slow-release balanced fertilizer formulated for shrubs and trees in early spring. Scratch the granules into the soil and water thoroughly. If you prefer organic methods, spread one or two shovelfuls of compost around the Rose-of-Sharon and out to the dripline.

Deadhead the flowers as they fade to encourage more blossoms. This also reduces the number of seed pods in older cultivars. Though the foliage and seeds generally don't attract wildlife, the prolific blossoms bring butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden.

Monitoring for Pests and Problems

While resistant to many pests and Verticillium wilt, your rose of Sharon may attract aphids. A strong blast of water knocks the sap-sucking pests off the foliage.

Pick off leaves showing signs of bacterial leaf spot and any blighted flowers to prevent the spread of diseases. If you see spots of bright, reddish-orange growth developing on the bark, remove the infected branches immediately and put them in the trash. Be sure to sterilize your cutting tools between cuts.


  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Hibiscus Syriacus: Rose-of-Sharon
  • Ohio State University Plant Facts: Hibiscus Syriacus - Rose-of-Sharon or Shrub Althea (Malvaceae)
  • The National Gardening Association: Roses Of Sharon: Plant Care and Collection of Varieties


  • Don't begin "limbing up" the shrub until its fourth year, so it will have time to form sturdy stems first.


  • Don't slice off horizontal branches flush with the trunk, as that can prevent the tree from healing properly. Instead, cut just outside the branch's collar.
  • Most experts these days advise against using wound dressing when pruning, as it also delays the healing of the wood.

Writer Bio

Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist and writer who focuses primarily on garden topics. She writes a weekly garden column and authored 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden. She continues to write nonfiction articles on gardening and other topics and is working on a second "50" book about plants that attract hummingbirds.

How And When To Prune A Rose Of Sharon

Written by Edward Harris

I am morally obligated to explain that Hibiscus Syriacus, or Rose Of Sharon, is neither a rose, nor is it native to Syria. In actuality, Rose Of Sharon is a woody, flowering shrub that is particularly tolerant of poor soil, cold winters, and polluted air. These are the main factors that contribute to its popularity as an ornamental plant in gardens around the world, and particularly well suited to gardens here in Dayton, Ohio.

What is a Rose Of Sharon?

The Rose Of Sharon is a form of hibiscus that grows naturally as a shrub, but can be pruned to grow into a wide range of shapes and sizes. This is why it is sometimes referred to as a tree –which it is not.

It’s also winter-hardy as far North as Zone 5, meaning you can still grow tropical flowers outdoors, even if you’re in Northern Michigan –pretty cool.

The Rose Of Sharon thrives under a myriad of pruning regimens, or lack thereof. Left to its own devices, the plant will typically grow to over 12 feet in height, and spread laterally 8 to 10 feet. 

More commonly, the plant is pruned down to a manageable height at least once a year, allowing it to serve as an ornamental shrub, or a flowering hedge. Alternatively, if the growth at the base of the plant is pruned down to a single central stem, it will develop into thick, trunk like stalk, giving the appearance of a small tree.

Another attractive quality of the Rose Of Sharon is its ability to thrive in conditions that would be detrimental to many other ornamentals. They do well in sand, clay, and moderately acidic soils, and while they prefer consistently moist soil, they are fairly drought tolerant (though you’ll see a decline in the number and quality of blooms if not watered regularly).

Combine this with the fact that the root systems are neither deep nor aggressive, and this plant is a standout choice for foundation plantings or areas that are less than ideal for more finicky cultivars.

When To Prune Rose Of Sharon

One thing you need to keep in mind about your Rose Of Sharon is that the buds and flowers form only on the new growth each year.

For this reason, the best time to prune your plants is in late winter or early spring, after the coldest part of the winter has passed, but before the plant begins to come out of its dormancy and put on new leaves.

This isn’t just about controlling the space in which the plant will grow to occupy, it’s also about defining the form that plant will take, and concentrating its energies on producing larger and healthier blooms.

How Much To Prune From Your Rose Of Sharon

The short answer is that it depends.

The new growth of the plant tends to develop vertically, though the branches will droop somewhat once they put on flowers. In its natural shrubby, vase-shaped form this results in a fanning out of the branches later in the season when the flowers bloom. Achieve this by trimming entire branches away near the base.

Achieve a fuller shape by pruning back from the ends of the branches. In the early spring, trim back the branches to achieve roughly the overall shape and volume the shrub will occupy. After that, occasional light prunings can help to keep things tidy, and restricting new growth to a maximum of two or three buds can result in larger, more impressive blooms.

Another option is to prune the plant down to a single stem, removing all lateral growth up to a certain level, allowing the main stem to develop into a thick, woody faux-trunk. This creates the appearance of a miniature tree that develops a layer of beautiful flowers. In this case, restricting the amount of new growth also helps to create larger and more vibrant blooms, at the expense of quantity.

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Rose of Sharon Bush: Pruning & Growing Tips 💡 Gardening |

  • Plant Characteristics
  • Pruning Tips
  • Rose of Sharon Zone, Sun and Soil Requirements, Pests and Diseases
  • Use for Rose of Sharon in Landscape Design
  • Excellent Quality, Growing Tips
  • Plant taxonomy classifies the rose of Sharon, also called "althaea" or "althea", as Hibiscus syriacus , Contrary to its common name, the plant is actually not a rose at all, but a member of the Malvaceae or "mallow" family. It is also not considered native to Syria, despite its species name, most likely on the Asian continent.

    Rose of Sharon is classified by botanists as a deciduous flowering shrub.

    Plant Specifications

    Generally speaking, Rose of Sharon bushes can reach 8-10 feet in height, but they are only about half as wide (they usually have a spread of only 4-6 feet). Their shape and relatively considerable height make them comparable to other tall, tree-like shrubs. However, some cultivars remain shorter (e.g. Hibiscus syriacus 'Minerva' only reaches 5-8 feet). The flowers on these bushes can be white, red, lavender, or light blue; some of them have double flowers. Most of them have small, deeply lobed, light green leaves (this trait may vary by variety).

    Pruning tips

    Although a naturally multi-stemmed shrub, this plant can be trained by pruning to have only one main chest; hence some people call it the Rose of Sharon "Tree". Cut back in late winter or early spring, as this is one of the shrubs that bloom this season. It is easiest to give the Rose of Sharon the desired shape by pruning it accordingly during the first two seasons.

    He can also be trained for espalier.

    Rose of Sharon Zone, Sun and Soil Requirements, Pests and Diseases

    The climate is most favorable for growing Rose of Sharon in USDA plant weathering zones 5-9.

    Rose of Sharon prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Older shrubs can fall victim to fungal damage if you grow them in areas without full sun.

    This is due to the fact that excess moisture is retained in shaded areas, and it is in humid conditions that the fungus thrives. This plant profits from growing in rich soil, so fertilizer is recommended (although not required for established shrubs). If you want to stay organic, carefully compost the compost in the soil around the root zone and pour it into the soil.

    The main pest problem for this shrub is Japanese beetle infestation. Luckily, Japanese beetles are somewhat easier to control than many other insect pests because they are large enough to spot right away - before they do too much damage to your plants. The easiest and safest way to kill them is to pick and/or hand shake them by dropping them into a container filled with soapy water. The insect breathes through its skin, so the soap coating over its body is effectively suffocated.

    Use for Rose of Sharon in landscaping

    Three popular uses for this shrub:

    1. Specimen
    2. Hedge plant
    3. Base shrub

    It's attractive and abundant flowers make this plant fully capable of holding. The ability to form a rose of Sharon also makes the shrub a prime candidate for hedges. But since this shrub is deciduous, it only makes an effective thirst defense in summer (choose one of the evergreen shrubs to get privacy all year round).

    However, it can be used to provide privacy around pools in areas with cold winters, as you will most likely only swim there during the summer. However, be aware that its flowers may attract bees, which are usually unwanted visitors in basin areas. Because the shrub responds well to annual pruning, it is quite useful for foundation planting where it is important to be able to control the growth of the plant (to avoid crushing it in your home).

    Excellent quality, growing tips

    The Rose of Sharon blooms profusely and its attractive flowers are its main selling point. Like other types of hibiscus, its flowers have a striking stamen. Another feature that gives artisanal value is the relatively late flowering period (in the northeastern states, it blooms in August).

    Rose of Sharon is thus able to offer color when many flowering shrubs have long ceased to bloom. It is imperative that gardeners be able to grow these late summer flowering shrubs if they intend to manage the flowering sequence in their landscapes.

    A heat lover, this shrub is also prized by growers in the southeastern United States who crave plants that can withstand hot summers. The plant is fairly drought tolerant. In fact, if your Rose of Sharon has yellow leaves, it could be due to over and not lack of water.

    Don't dismiss the Rose of Sharon thinking it's dead just because it didn't bloom before summer. This plant not only blooms, but also late, so be patient. When Althea flower buds don't open, that's another matter.

    And these are not the only problems associated with the growth of Hibiscus syriacus . Its seeds drop and sprout where you don't want, and therefore the need to remove young plants by hand, is hardly conducive to low-income landscaping. However, for those seeking help with this matter, I offer an alternative to pulling out unwanted volunteer plants in my article on getting rid of altea seedlings.

    Rose of Sharon - not the only type Hibiscus which thrives outside of tropical and subtropical regions, although when you hear the genus you're talking about it might very well immediately think of the tender types that show up in greenhouses. Another hardy hibiscus Hibiscus moscheutos , known for its giant flowers.

    Video instruction: Kate Bush - The Song Of Solomon.

    How to prune a rose in spring - Soncesad How to prune a rose in spring - Soncesad

    Spring is the best time to prune and prepare roses for the new flowering season. She is often called the "queen of flowers", mistakenly believing that behind her beauty she hides a capricious disposition and special requirements for flower growers. But in fact, you need to know the most important secrets of the success of growing this plant, which are shared by the experts of SunceSad. And then this "queen" will forever settle in your garden and heart.

    Best way to prune roses in spring

    An important work in the flower garden in early spring is pruning, cleaning and shaping the bushes. Experts identify four main ways of pruning roses:

    1. Classic pruning , which involves the complete cutting of dead, damaged, thin branches. At the place of the cut, the color of the wood should be light without a brown tint. Healthy shoots are also shortened, and the shoots of the bush are removed.

    2. Moderate pruning involves cutting the shoot by half, weakened shoots are shortened even more, or removed altogether. This method is more suitable for cluster, standard hybrid tea roses and florinbund roses.

    3. For pruning rooted and vigorous varieties of hybrid tea roses, use light pruning . At the same time, the shoots are cut off by two-thirds of the height.

    ✔ Attention!

    Pruning in this way is not recommended annually - after it the shoots will stretch too much, and the rose will not bloom well.

    4. Heavy cutting - the main way to care for already formed Florinbunda roses. It is used to rejuvenate old bushes and heal the weak. At the same time, the shoots are cut off at the level of the third bud from the base, leaving them dense and short. Sometimes newly planted bushes are also cut in this way - then they grow lush, and there are more buds on them.

    How to prune different types of roses in spring

    The "cleaning" is carried out according to certain rules for each group of roses. The cut is made at a distance of 5 mm above the kidney, directed into the bush, which will release a new shoot. If a bud is left at the tip of the shoot directed inside the bush, this will lead to its incorrect formation (Fig. 1). When the shoot dies, it turns brown to the very core, then we cut it to the first sleeping bud with an oblique cut (Fig. 2).

    ⌂ Figure 1 and 2

    In flower bed and hybrid tea roses , weak and damaged shoots are cut out, dead shoot ends are removed.

    Leave 3-8 shoots on the bush (depending on its size), cutting them at the level of the fourth-sixth bud (from the ground). The advantage of such pruning is that the shoots after it grow evenly (Fig. 3).

    ⌂ Figure 3

    Standard roses at the end of April are completely shortened, leaving 3-5 buds, weeping varieties are only thinned out. Dry and damaged shoots are cut out (Fig. 4).

    ⌂ Figure 4

    In spray roses , shoots of only the multi-flowering group are cut, and the rest are shortened by a third (Fig. 5). Roses that bloom once a season are not pruned in the spring, thinning the bush after flowering is recommended for them.

    ⌂ Picture 5

    Climbing pruning. In plants that bloom several times, side shoots are shortened, leaving 2-4 buds. Long main shoots do not touch (Fig. 6). Single-flowering plants are thinned out only after flowering. In spring, young shoots are not cut, because flowers appear on them.

    ⌂ Figure 6

    After pruning, the shoots are tied up again.

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