Rose Of Sharon: Late Summer Flower Power!

rose of sharon up close

rose of sharon up close

It’s now later July, and my Asiatic and Oriental lilies are beginning to fade, but my Gladiolas have not yet bloomed, so what is the DIY gardener to do? Enter: Rose-of-Sharon. (pictured here is “Purple Sky Single Lavender” )

If you’ve every been to Florida and noticed the beautiful, tropical Hibiscus flowers, then you’ll love the Rose of Sharon who’s large hibiscus-like blooms are showy in the mid-to-late summer in zone 5 and early summer in southerly zones. So if you live in the Midwest, this is your key to late July and August perennial flower power!

Sharon grows in sun or partial shade and in any soil. If you grow her in Chicago’s nasty gray, clay soil, be sure to amend with some mushroom compost and a little manure to increase the blooms!

With regular, weekly watering, Sharon will grow quickly, requiring regular pruning. If you have her planted in an open area, you can let her go and she’ll grow around 12 feet tall and 10 feet wide. If you have Rose of Sharon in your regular landscape beds like I do, keep her trimmed regularly using hand pruners;… Just keep the “run-away” limbs in check. Fast growth is not bad thing, however, because you can prune Rose of Sharon into the later spring with no flower loss. Keep her shaped so she doesn’t get away from you.

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Rose of Sharon blooms are found in single or double flowers in shades of red, pink, white and purple/lavender, depending on the cultivar. Peak bloom takes place in early August in the Chicago and Northwest Indiana area.

Rose of Sharon have very few problems from insects or fungus, however, in recent years I have found Japanese Beetles feeding on the flowers when no other host plants are near. Other than that, Sharon is low maintenance and does not require dead heading. Some gardeners do panic in early spring as they are unaware that Rose of Sharon is one of the later deciduous shrubs to push out leaves. Trust me, she’s not dead, she’s just sleeping in!

Here are a few names to look for when buying Rose of Sharon:

‘Amplissimus’ – Double, red flowers.

‘Aphrodite’ – Dark pink flowers with a dark red eye.

‘Ardens’ – Double, rose-purple flowers with a maroon blotch.

‘Banner’ – Red and white flowers.

‘Blue Bird’ – Single, sky-blue flowers

‘Blushing Bride’ – Double, rich pink flowers

‘Bulls Eye’ – Large, single, rose-red flowers with a red eye.

‘Candy Stripe’ – Single flowers that are white and pink with red stripes.

‘Coelestris’ – Single, blue flowers.

‘Collie Mullens’ – Double, purple-lavender blooms.

‘Diana’ – Single, pure white flowers

‘Freedom’ – Semi-double, rose pink flowers

‘Hamabo’ – Single pink or pinkish lavender flowers with a crimson eye

‘Helene’ – Large, single white flowers with a dark red eye

‘Jeanne D’Arc’ – Double white flowers

‘Lady Stanley’ – Double, pink flowers.

‘Lucy’ – Double, dark red flowers

‘Minerva’ – Single, lavender flowers are overcast with pink and have a dark red eye

‘Morning Star’ – Double, red and white striped flowers.

‘Paeoniflorus’ – Double, violet-pink flowers

‘Purple Sky’ – Single purple flowers with a red star eye.

All About Asiatic and Oriental Lily

yellow asiatic lily, full bloom JulyI’d like to introduce you to my newest “favorite” summer flower in the garden, the Asiatic Lily.
If you’ve visited this blog before, then you know how much I love stella de oro daylilies. However, Stella is not a true “lily.” In addition, calla lily, toad lily, and surprise lily are not “true lilies” either.
“True lilies” are members of the genus Lilium. They originate from underground bulbs and produce large, showy blossoms in the summer. True lilies are excellent plants for almost any┬álandscaped area. They are versatile and easy to care for, and offer a wide variety of heights, flower forms, and colors. I have recently begun to grow true Asiatic lilies as a way to increase my garden’s “flower power” during the hotter summer months here in the Midwest.

grouping of pinks at Dave's house

The Best Ways to Grow Lilies in Your Garden

Asiatic and Oriental Lilies will bring beauty, color and fragrance to your garden for many years with very little maintenance. If you do your research, you can purchase varieties that bloom in early June, while others flower in July and August, still others into September.

Traditionally, gardeners purchase lilies as bulbs which are planted in Fall, but I have had great luck buying ones grown in pots over at Home Depot or Lowe’s. I just look for ones that are about to bloom, dig a hole, plant them and leave them alone. This way I get instant lily flowers, and the next year they return in greater grandeur!

Another great way to start your Asiatic lily collection is to “steal” them from friends and family. The Asiatics pictured here are from my friend Dave’s house. He got most of these from his mom’s already established lily garden. He just waited until fall, dug up the bulbs from her plants, split them and took the “daughter” bulbs home and planted them! Viola! Free lilies! He’s got multiple varieties growing alongside his back deck where they peer through the railing while making a nice border to his nice lawn! (gotta love that lawn too!) Thanks Dave!

more variety from my friend Dave

Planting Asiatic lily bulbs in the fall time is nearly fool proof. Dig a hole about 6 inches deep, drop them in and cover with fresh soil and mulch. Even if you plant them upside down, they will grow perfectly the next year!

Lily Care

It is best to choose a well-drained location with at least half a day of sunshine. If it’s too shady, the stems will stretch and lean towards the sun, whereas I prefer my lilies to remain compact. Most Asiatics top out around 3′ tall while Orientals grow taller.

Lilies love full sun, as long as the bulbs are deep enough to keep cool when temperatures rise above 85 degrees. They should also be mulched over during the long Chicagoland winter.

Look for a spot that is the first to dry out after rain. Lilies can be bothered by fungus that spots the leaves in prolonged cool, wet weather. If you do see brown spots on the leaves, use any fungicide recommended for roses.

Be sure to cut back lily stems when they turn yellow later in the season after the bulbs have been recharged by photosynthesis. You can also fertilize your lilies (bulbs) in the fall using bone meal and a scattering of Milorganite. Composted leaves from Oak or Ash trees work well also and provide protection from harsh winter freezes.

pink and white lilies in Dave's back yard

Lilies will gradually increase (naturalize) by division of the large main bulbs and by growth of small bulbs along the old below-ground stem. If the clumps that form become too thick to make large stems, lift and divide them in September or October.

Here is a list of some more common Asiatic and Oriental lilies by name, color, their normal full grown heights, and when they bloom in the Midwest zone 5:

Asiatic:
“Enchantment” orange, 2 – 3′ June
“Connecticut King” yellow, 3 – 4′ June
“Corsica” pink, 3′ June/July
“Crete Asiatic” deep pink, 3 – 4′ June/July
“Dawn Star” cream 2 – 3′ July

Oriental:
“Black Beauty” dark red, 5 – 6′ July/August
“Journey’s End” deep pink, 4 – 5′ August
“Stargazer” crimson-red, 2 – 3′ August
“Yellow Ribbons” white/yellow, 3 – 5′ August
“Casa Blanca” pure white 4 – 5′ August/September