Immortality: The Rose Of Sharon
One of my most challenging and rewarding landscaping experiences, was an attempt to grow Rose of Sharon plants. I actually succeeded, much to my own amazement! How often I recall photographing an ant sipping rain water, at the heart of one beautiful flower on my Rose of Sharon shrub, shortly after a summer shower.
The Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), is a vase shaped plant, from the genus Hibiscus and the plant family Malvaceae. (1) The flowering shrub grows to approximately two to four meters in height, with flowers that may be white, pink, red, lavender, or purple. They are edible and are excellent as cut flowers, because they last for a long time. Some of the more common cultivars, or cuttings that have been grown into shrubs are called Diana, Lady Stanley, Ardens, Lucy and Blushing Bride. (2) The Hibiscus syriacus is also known as the Rose of Althea. (3)
In South Korea, the Hibiscus syriacus is regarded as their national flower. The Korean word “mugung” means “immorality” (4) and thus it has been considered to be a heavenly flower. It was initially adopted as the national flower after their liberation from Japan. (5) Because of the many blossoms, it represents the Koreans “wish for long lasting national development and prosperity” (6) and depicts “the glories of the county with its trials and tribulations”. (7)
In my own personal experience, I learned that the Rose of Sharon, more commonly called the hibiscus, will grow where it is very hot in the summer. It was hot, where I was living in southern Ontario.
I purchased my first Rose of Sharon shrub, called “Diana”, from a local garden center. It had been pruned to grow like a tree, with several small branches. It was about three feet tall at the time and had a single white flower. (Note that the shrubs can be multi-stemmed, as they tend to grow small plants beside the main root.) The leaves were a healthy, light green color. (When it is really hot, they tend to burn and become brownish colored.)
I learned that the hibiscus could be started from cuttings, so whenever I had a cut flower that finished blossoming, I would leave it in the vase and let it root in the water. Once rooted, I would plant it in its own clay flower pot. Over time, I gave a number of Rose of Sharon plants away, but could have planted them as a hedge.
I found out that the Rose of Sharon grows very well in full sunlight. My shrub was planted in a relatively sheltered, landscaped