This post is about Propagating Rose of Sharon. Here we go over some basics of Rose of Sharon and how to propagate this edible plant.
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is also known as Althaea, Shrub Althea, and Hardy Hibiscus. The shrub has a tight, upright vase-shaped form, reaching 7–13ft in height and has large summer blossoms. Rose of Sharon like full sun to light shade and moist, well-drained soil. They have deeply-lobed, light-green leaves. It is a deciduous flowering shrub native to east Asia and is the national flower of South Korea.
The Rose of Sharon has trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom from summer into the fall. Flowers are short-lived, lasting only a day. They come in shades of white, red, pink and purple and attract birds, butterflies and other useful pollinators. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects.
The leaves, blossoms, and flowers of the Rose of Sharon are edible and have a mild flavor and mucilaginous texture. Leaves are made into tea and the flowers eaten, usually raw. The leaves taste like lettuce, but are very fibrous unless you catch them early. Blossoms appear in late summer and have a nutty flavor to them. Flowers taste great and have a hint of nectar at the base of the petals. The root is edible but very fibrous.
Rose of Sharon can be propagated via seeds, cuttings, or layering. This post is going to discuss propagation via softwood cuttings.
Softwood cuttings are this year’s growth that started in the spring. This wood is usually just slightly a different color and last year’s wood just looks a little more worn and older.
Make the Cut
Cut the softwood branches off of the plant. Then cut the branches down so they have four internodes. Internodes are any place a branch or leaf comes out. I usually go with four to six for Rose of Sharon. Leave two leafs at the top and remove the bottom leafs.
Dip the bottoms of the cuttings in rooting hormone. I use dip and grow liquid hormone because I only need the one product and I can mix it as strong as I like. Softwood cuttings do not require very concentrated rooting hormone, whereas hardwood cuttings require more concentrated solution.
Cuttings in the Planting Medium
Now it is time to place the cuttings into the planting medium. Push them into your planting medium about two inches down. Your planting medium should be something that drains freely and easily. You do not want to saturate the soil where disease and pathogens will proliferate.
Keep the Leaves Wet
These little cuttings will die if the leaves dry out. You don’t want to soak the ground, but you do want to keep the leaves wet. The best way to do this is with a mist irrigation system that automatically comes on. I use the Galcon 8056 and have it programmed for 10 seconds on and 5 minutes off. This runs all day, but shuts totally off from 9 PM until 6 AM.
Leave Them Be
The cuttings need to stay in the rooting medium until they go dormant. This usually happens by December or January timeframe. Once they are dormant, they can be moved to pots or to their location in the yard.
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