Althea is also known as the rose of Sharon. It is a flowering shrub that blooms in the summer. Not many flowers bloom in the summer as spring is the most popular season for seeing showy bright flowers.
Althea flower will bring life to your summer landscape.
Althea is a member of the hibiscus family and is easy to grow, making it a popular choice for newbie gardeners. It is classified as a shrub but can be pruned to look like a tree.
Popular Althea Varieties
Rose of Sharon is easy to grow and maintain shrub. Still, your work can be made even easier by planting a suitable variety.
Althea typically starts blooming from early summer deep into fall, giving you ample time to enjoy its beautiful colors and aesthetically pleasing flowers. The size of a mature plant and color of its flower is the significant difference between althea varieties. You can get rose of Sharon varieties growing as tall as 12 feet and other dwarf varieties growing only 3 feet.
- Purple pillar: this is a giant althea species growing up to 16 feet tall and spreading 3 feet. It will make an excellent hedge plant and can also be made to look like a tree if appropriately pruned. Its flowers are purple-pink.
- Azurri blue satin: at 12 feet tall and 6 feet wide, this rose of Sharon variety is big and needs a vast space to grow. It only produces a few seeds, and just like its name suggests, its blooms are blue.
- Sugar tip: the azurri blue satin produces only a few seeds, but the sugar tip is a seedless shrub. Its leaves are blue-green, and its flowers light pink. Its dwarf height of 6 feet makes it suitable for smaller gardens.
- Lil’ Kim: this is another dwarf species with a typical height of 4 feet, making it fit seamlessly into smaller yard spaces. It has showy white flowers and burgundy throats.
Benefits of Growing Althea flower in Your Garden
If you’re looking for a reason why you should have Rose of Sharon in your garden, here they are
- They attract butterflies and other pollinators: althea produces showy flowers that serve as nectar for butterflies. Suppose you’re looking to start a butterfly garden or would like to attract butterflies or bees to help pollinate other plants you have in your garden. In that case, growing the althea plant will serve you well.
- They are easy to maintain: althea shrubs do not need a lot of attention to grow. It only requires minimal pruning and watering, giving you more free time to focus on other things. If you’re someone with less time on your hands, you should consider growing this shrub.
- It is a perennial plant: you do not have to plant every year, just once, and you’ll enjoy this beautiful show for years.
- You can place Its flowers indoors: Rose of Sharon blooms can be cut and added to your indoor garden collection.
Growing Conditions for Rose of Sharon:
It has already been stated severally that althea is an easy to grow shrub. But its ease of growth is only possible if it is growing in a conducive environment. Here, I’ll show you the best conditions to grow the rose of Sharon.
Rose of Sharon loves to grow under the full sun but can survive under partial shade. A minimum of 5 hours of sunlight is advised.
For your althea bush to grow well, it needs lots of room; depending on the species planted, you need to provide space for it to spread.
Moist well-draining Soil
This plant loves growing in soil that drains water properly as soggy soil can lead to root rot and several other unfavorable conditions. The soil should be moist but not muddy.
The best soil pH for growing althea is between 5.5 and 7.5; you can test your soil’s pH to be sure.
When to Plant Althea Flower (Rose of Sharon)?
Planting at the right time ensures your althea flower grows with little or no interference from pests and diseases.
When is the right time to grow althea?
The best time to plant Rose of Sharon is in spring or fall. Planting in any of this season will give your plant the best chance of survival.
How Long Does it Take to Mature?
Rose of Sharon is a slow-growing plant that will take several years to mature depending on species. It typically grows about 24 inches each year before it reaches its mature height. This means it may take between 4 and 6 years for some varieties to mature.
Preparation for Planting Althea Flower:
Before you consider planting this shrub, you need to prepare. This preparation will ensure the planting is smooth and the althea bush grows.
1. Choose the Althea Variety
The first thing you should consider is the althea variety you will be growing in your garden. Of course, this decision is dependent on a lot of factors like region, space, and personal choices.
2. Choose the Suitable Corner of Your Garden
A right corner includes an area with lots of sunlight, well-draining soil, and correct soil pH. You want to choose a corner that will be suitable for the althea bush to grow.
3. Clear the Land and Dig a Large Hole
After choosing a location, you need to clear the debris of tree branches and leaves—clear surrounding bushes and weeds. Dig a hole 2 to 3 times as wide as its depth. With its depth about the same size as the althea bush root ball.
4. Amend the Soil
Use compost or fertilizer to amend the soil and replenish essential nutrients in the soil.
How to Plant and Grow Althea?
After preparation, it is now time to plant. Here’s how to grow rose of Sharon.
Squeeze the sides of the container carrying the rose of Sharon root balls to loosen it. Hold the base of the plant and gently pull it out of the container. You can also use a snip to cut open the container and remove the althea root ball. Gently spray the root with water to loosen some roots.
Place the althea root ball into the hole you dug, ensuring the root ball’s top is at the same level as the ground.
Fill the open space in the hole with the amended soil removed from the spot. Gently tap the ground as you fill the hole to remove air pockets. Avoid putting additional soil on the root ball so you don’t suffocate the plant.
Water the area deeply, as deep as the height of the root ball. Water both the root ball and the sand-filled area.
Cover the area with wood chippings to conserve water and reduce the frequency of watering. The wood clippings will also decompose and release essential nutrients to the soil. Ensure the chippings have been left for at least 6 months after being cut.
How to Care for Althea Flower?
Althea bush is easy to grow and maintain shrub; nevertheless, it still requires a little maintenance to get it going, especially at its early stage.
- Fertilization: the organic matter added to the soil before planting is enough to provide nutrients to the plant, but in some situations where nutrients are deficient, fertilization is essential. Greenish-yellow leaves, early leaf drop, and stunted growth are signs of poor soil.
- Water: Rose of Sharon can do with minimal water when mature, but in the first one year after planting, you need to water it once or twice weekly, depending on the soil type. The soil should receive at least one inch of water each week.
- Pruning: avoid pruning when the althea is flowering. Wait till after flowering to prune. You can remove dead or spent branches by breaking them off the parent plants. Pruning at the base can make this plant look like a tree.
Pests and Diseases
Although althea is somewhat pest resistant, it is still prone to some pests and diseases.
Here are pests to look out for in your rose of Sharon garden.
- Japanese beetle
- Root-knot nematodes
- Leaf rust
- Leaf spot
- Bud drop
Using pesticides and following althea best growing practices will keep your garden free from these pests and diseases.
Rose of Sharon is an ornamental plant that will liven up your summer landscape. It is a popular shrub among gardeners because it is easy to grow and maintain.
By following this guide, your althea journey will be smooth and enjoyable.