Vermont Garden Journal: The Rose Of Sharon Shrub Is In Bloom Now
The naming of plants can be deceiving. Take the Rose of Sharon shrub that's blooming now around the state. This plant isn't in the rose family. Even the botanical name, Hibiscus Syriacus is only half correct. It has a hibiscus or mallow-shaped flower, but the shrub doesn't hail from Syria, more likely India or China.
However you look at it, the Rose of Sharon is a beautiful landscape plant that has become very common. What's not common about Rose of Sharon is its ability to flower profusely in August when few other shrubs are blooming and be relatively trouble free. The flowers can be single, double, frilly or of multiple colors. Yes, there is a Rose of Sharon called 'Tri-Color' that has pink, red and purple colored flowers all on one shrub. 'Sugar Tip' has double pink flowers on a variegated plant. 'Lil' Kim' only grows three-to-four feet tall, while most Rose of Sharon shrubs reach up to 10 feet. And the 'Pillar' Rose of Sharon only grows two feet wide, but straight up.
Give Rose of Sharon full sun and well-drained soil on a zone five site and it's happy. In marginally hardy areas, protect shrubs from winter winds with burlap. Be patient in spring as Rose of Sharon can leaf out late. The only serious pest of Rose of Sharon is the Japanese beetle.
While most gardeners grow Rose of Sharon as a specimen in the lawn or a foundation plant along the house, play around with this versatile shrub. Grow Rose of Sharon with other shrubs such as nine bark, lilac and smoke bush. Grow a privacy hedge of Rose of Sharon to block a view. Or even grow dwarf types in containers, then protect them in winter.
Now for this week's tip: keep picking off and destroying the tomato hornworm. These caterpillars eat voraciously and grow fast, stripping tomato foliage in a few days. Toss the caterpillars in soapy water or feed them to chickens.