The Rose of Sharon has an interesting history, being neither a rose nor a specific flower. In many cultures, the term “Rose of Sharon” was used to describe a common flowering shrub. The name was taken from the Bible, where it appeared as a descriptor for an unknown plant. In the United States, the most common Rose of Sharon is the purple Hibiscus syriacus, a deciduous flowering shrub from East Asia. However, the term can also refer to the Hypericum calycinum or Hibiscus rosa-Sinensis.
The first step to determining when to trim your Rose of Sharon is to identify which plant you possess. Once you have this information, you can discover the best time to prune, make adjustments to the environment, and even deadhead when necessary.
When to Trim Rose of Sharon
No matter what type of Rose of Sharon you possess, the flowers share some common qualities. It is important to give the flowering shrub plenty of moisture and to offer some protection from the hot midday sun. It grows best in USDA hardiness zones 5-9, meaning it prefers temperate climates with hot summers and cold winters. The Rose of Sharon can stretch to 8 or 12 ft. in height and between 6 and 10 ft. in length, so pruning and trimming are essential to promote healthy growth and to stop the shrub from spreading out of control.
How to Prune
When it comes to the Rose of Sharon, determining how much to trim or prune depends on how tall and wide you are willing to allow the shrub to grow. If you have a finite amount of space, you will want to prune more frequently to avoid having branches and blooms in strange locations. To prune properly, be sure to get a pair of gardening shears capable of cutting through the branches.
The best time to cut Rose of Sharon is during the dormant season. This dormant season occurs in late winter or early spring, typically around March. However, the shrub will thrive in trimmed at any point in the following months until early May. Try to avoid cutting the shrubs when there is still a risk of significant snow or ice, as the cold can damage the freshly trimmed branches. Remove as much dead or damaged wood as you can, as these branches won’t be able to grow and can affect the overall health and appearance of your shrub.
If you are experiencing unusual weather, stick to the calendar. If you trim the Rose of Sharon too soon or too late, it is possible for the plant to experience shock. Shock is damage from the elements, and your flowers will be unable to grow and bloom properly once damaged.
Trimming By Sections
Occasionally, you’re going to encounter a couple of natural characteristics in the Rose of Sharon that need to be eliminated for overall health and wellness. For example, if you come across crisscrossing or intersecting branches, it is best to eliminate at least one of them so growth occurs unimpeded. You can use a pruning saw rather than shears, as these branches tend to be thicker than others and occur near the bottom of the shrub.
If you see any branches that are brittle, rotting, or colorless, get rid of those as well. If the issue is basic rotting or disease, cut to the point were the unhealthy portions ends. If the entire branch seems weak or discolored, cut the entire thing. Don’t worry about eliminating too much, as it is best to cut the Rose of Sharon back to 2/3 of its current size to foster ideal growth.
This practice is called hard or rejuvenation pruning and can be best for Rose of Sharon shrubs that have not grown well in the last two years. When hard pruning, remember that you will likely grow fewer flowers, but they will be brighter and more vibrant because the plant can dedicate more resources to each bloom.
Finally, you should focus on pruning the new growth along the top. A major problem for the Rose of Sharon is its tendency to grow up before it grows out. When poorly cared for, the Rose of Sharon can become extremely tall, making it difficult to treat and care for. When pruning, focus on eliminating branches that are longer than the rest and that stick out too much on the top. You can also get rid of branches and twigs on the sides to make a more pleasing shape.
Should You Deadhead?
Although the Rose of Sharon is beautiful, a common problem gardeners complain about is the flower’s propensity for self-seeding. Because each shrub contains dozens of blooms, the Rose of Sharon is capable of propagating itself, sending its seedlings scattering throughout the yard. The result is a potentially invasive plant that starts to sprout in unexpected places, even in uncleaned gutters.
One of the ways you can avoid this trouble is by deadheading on a regular basis. The process of deadheading is when a gardener removes the blooms and seed pods of a plant after it has flowered and is starting to decline. The seed pods of the Rose of Sharon can be found just underneath the blooms, so you can literally snip the flowers off the plant once they have finished being beautiful. Make sure to get the developing seed pod, which emerges in October and takes between 6 and 14 weeks to mature.
Failing to eliminate the seed pods can result in imminent close propagation. The pods can drop their seeds to their earth directly below the Rose of Sharon, where they begin to grow. The result is clumps that work great as hedges but can be difficult for the average gardener to handle without fuss.
The Rose of Sharon is a beautiful shrub with unique yellow, purple, white, or even pink flowers. Remember to only prune during the dormant season in late winter and early spring, and try to target unhealthy or long branches before trimming other sections of the plant. If you are struggling with trimming, switch from shears to a pruning saw and focus on discoloration. Try to eliminate ⅓ of the plant for maximum benefit.
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