Perennials

A Shady Character: Rose-of-Sharon

If your garden is mostly a shady one, then you certainly don’t want to plant a sun-loving large shrub or small tree into a shade garden, do you? Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is a 9 to 12 foot tall small tree that is a mainstay in sunny Southern gardens.

Move Rose-of-Sharon into shade, and you will be rewarded with mid-summer blooms when not much else is flowering in the woodland garden. It is covered for weeks in mid-summer with hibiscus-like flowers that are hummingbird attractors.

'Meehanii' by Rita Mercer

Uses in the Shade Garden
Not ordinarily a shade lover, Rose-of-Sharon mingles beautifully in my garden with rhodendron, azalea, hellebores and ferns. It will not grow as big nor as full as the Rose-of-Sharon you have in sunnier conditions, but it acclimates beautifully into shady conditions. Look for Rose-of-Sharon cultivars like ‘Meehanii’ that has variegated foliage or double-blooming varieties that look like large carnations. Solid-white blooms are found on ‘Diana,’ which is sterile and will not produce seeds.

How to Grow
Growing best in moist, well-drained soil, Rose-of-Sharon will tolerate a wide variety of soils and will also tolerate drought. Watch out for invasive seedlings (not a problem in my shade garden) or plant the sterile cultivars. Japanese beetles love this shrub but happily, the beetles do not migrate to the shady border.

Byline:
Rita Mercer gardens under majestic oaks in Apex, NC. Contact her for shade-gardening advice or take a virtual tour of her garden at www.ritasgarden.net.