I live in Massachusetts, growing zone 6a. Yesterday my husband was given some young Rose of Sharon plants from a friend at work, grown from seed by someone else. I've always wanted some, and would like to know how best to ensure successful growth. There are six seedlings, ranging in height from 7" to 12", in a 9" by 9" plastic pot filled with dense wet soil, which looks to me like garden dirt.

Can I transplant them now? I've been told this is the worst time of year to do that. Our temperatures are between eighty and ninety degrees F during the day, sometimes hotter, down to the sixties at night, and it's quite humid.

How should I care for them while they're in the pot? As you can see, the stems are bending. Is staking a good idea, or would that disturb the roots? Should the pot be in the sun or shade, and what's the proper amount of water? If it's too soon for planting in the ground, do they need separate containers, or are they okay together?

Finally, how much distance will they need between them, or other plants, in their permanent spot? I have a section of day lilies, some of which I'm planning to remove to make a home for the Rose of Sharon.

Edit to provide requested information: The variety is Hibiscus syriacus. The parent plant is full and bushy, with single purple flowers. It's six years old and just over six feet tall.

click on pictures for full size

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  • When you do get them in the ground, make sure they are protected from deer. They're decimating them on Long Island, NY. Even woody growth.
    – That Idiot
    Jul 18, 2015 at 16:47

2 Answers 2


IMPE, Rose of Sharon is a fine, hardy weed with pretty flowers. As such, good time or bad, it will probably survive transplanting. I see little effective difference in transplanting from a pot to a pot and transplanting from a pot to the ground, if you stay on top of the watering. Providing some shade cloth for a few weeks probably would help at this time of year.

All of mine were weeded out of a friend's backyard, transported bare-root with damp paper and plastic wraps, and planted without special care, other than choosing spots that reflected the tendency to become a weed. All survived that, and most have survived long-term.

Depending on light and soil, up to 8 feet may easily be consumed by one vigorous plant. If you prune them, you can influence how much they are "small trees" (trim side branches up to a "crown" level, trim to single stem) or "bushes" in growth habit. IMPE "bushes" may need the occasional "drastic prune to the ground" or they become over-woody - this may be less of an issue if there is plenty of space, as it's mostly due to pruning the bush back to a reasonable size.

  • I'd go with "inexpensive" on down to "free" (tag-sale leftover sheets, perhaps, or burlap) since it's a purely temporary application - shading until established - expensive/long-lasting/high-quality shade cloth is appropriate for uses where it needs to last for years.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 19, 2015 at 22:55

Pot them up individually for the time being - its absolutely the wrong time to plant in the ground with temperatures like that, best planted when the weather cools down towards Fall. Make sure each pot is deep enough for the roots that have already formed without cramping or breaking them, but also that the pot isn't so large more than two thirds of it is just potting medium, not occupied with roots. Water in well once planted up, and keep well watered as necessary until such time as the weather is more suitable for planting out. This will mean each plant will have a good root system of its own when it is eventually planted.

As to how much space should go between each one when planted out, need to know which varieties they are in order to work out height and spread, and therefore planting distance - I'm assuming they're Hibiscus syriacus, but they might not be, even though the leaves showing in the picture look more or less right.

  • 1
    I agree. As for planting, while H. syriacus is quite hardy, young plants and those with double flowers can be a bit cold sensitive. So if you have a cold greenhous, spending the first winter there and planting in spring may be an option. Not a must, though.
    – Stephie
    Jul 17, 2015 at 18:53
  • Thank you and @Stephie for the detailed instructions. It seems that finding out the specific variety is important, which I may not be able to do until Monday. All I was told is that it's a purple Rose of Sharon, which could mean either of those in the links above. I wish I had a greenhouse :)! I do have a garage, in case resting it in a cool spot for the winter turns out to be important. If closer views of the leaves would be helpful, let me know. Otherwise, I'll be back in touch when I have more information! Jul 17, 2015 at 20:45
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    @Sue Looking at the leaves this is a hibiscus, and planting them out after the summer heat & with reasonable winter protection (read: a pile of leaves at the base or similar) should suffice, too. I'm sure they will be fine. It's said that the first two winters are critical. In my experience it's less the cold but more "wet feet" in winter that does them in. Oh, and they can be quite "lazy" in spring, being still bare when other shrubs have their foliage out. Scares me every time...
    – Stephie
    Jul 18, 2015 at 5:13
  • Hopefully the new information will be helpful in advising planting distance. Also, should they be in the sun or shade? I think the plant lives happily in the sun, but I don't know if the same is true for the babies! Jul 18, 2015 at 16:55
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    @Sue As usual: shade until established (shown by new growth, "up" leaves, general "good looking"), then gradually transfer to conditions for whatever you transplanted.
    – Stephie
    Jul 18, 2015 at 17:08

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