Hibiscus syriacus

Rose of Sharon, Rose Mallow and St Joseph’s Rod

Hybiscus syriacus

Hibiscus Syriacus is certainly one of the most spectacular of all the summer flowering shrubs available to local gardeners. It has been described in an English nursery catalogue as rivalling Hydrangeas as the leading and most significant summer flowering shrub.

One of the significant features of the Hibiscus Syriacus is that it will grow and perform magnificently in most of the diverse climatic conditions that prevail in South Africa. Cold and frost hardy, they also cope with the summer heat and humidity so prevalent in the sub-tropical regions. Sadly they are just not recognised for their real worth and true garden potential.

Please look out for these gorgeous plants at your nearest nursery or garden centre this summer gardening season. Deciduous shrubs with a strong, vigorous, upright growth habit, they ultimately attain a mature height of some 3 m. They form a splendid subject for the background of a mixed border or shrubbery, bursting forth in bloom in November.

Large Hollyhock-like blooms are borne in the leaf axils along the length of the woody stems or branches. Prune them back hard after flowering to maintain a well-proportioned bush and to stimulate healthy new growth and productive flowering in the forthcoming season. Full sun and rich, loamy soils are essential.

The ‘Chiffon’ hybrids are bigger, better and definitely more spectacular than any of the predecessors that were so popular some 30 or so years ago. The ruffled petals of the fully double flowers resemble crepe paper and sometimes look almost artificial at the first glance. The white flowered form is especially important, as white gardens are so fashionable at the moment and there are few other shrubs to rival ‘White Chiffon’ for sheer impact.

A picture paints a thousand words, so simply feast your eyes upon the dramatic photographs accompanying this text and then I’m sure you will decide that you need some ‘Chiffon’ in your garden. By the way they have a whole host of common names including Rose of Sharon, Syrian Hibiscus, Shrub Althaea and Tree Hollyhock.

The Gardener