When I moved into my current home and started to get to know my garden, I discovered I had five rose of Sharon plants on the property. We moved in the fall and the trees had been meticulously pruned, so we didn’t need to worry about pruning them that first year. Fast forward to our second spring and I couldn’t figure out what all these tiny little weeds sprouting up in my lawn were. I soon discovered they were miniature rose of Sharon plants—hundreds of them trying to make their way in the world. So this is both a lesson in pruning a rose of Sharon and a cautionary tale.
I realized that all those seed pods that appear at the end of the summer open up and drop their seeds to the grass or garden below. If you want to start a rose of Sharon nursery, you’re in business. If you don’t, you’re going to be spending some time pulling up all those earnest little seedlings.
Rose of Sharons look great in perennial gardens—mine have all been pruned to be trees—but they can also be trained into a hedge. My parents have a rose of Sharon hedge in front of a fence at their current home and it looks really pretty when it’s in bloom. Mine are scattered throughout my property.
The pollinators love rose of Sharons! I’ve seen bees coming out of a flower, covered in pollen, and hummingbirds flitting about the blooms.
Pruning a rose of Sharon
Once I was aware of the rampant seedling population that develops from ignoring the seed pods, I started shearing my rose of Sharons in the fall after the seed pods developed, but before they opened. You can also do this after the tree has bloomed and before the seeds even have a chance to set.
Here’s a video showing what I do to keep my rose of Sharons from self-sowing all over the garden:
The real pruning should happen in the spring. The Pruning Answer Book has some great charts and advice on the time of year to prune your trees and shrubs.
Rose of Sharons are best pruned when dormant because the blooms will grow on new wood. It’s also one of the last trees to get its leaves in the spring, so every year I think I’ve killed mine, but they always come back (eventually).
Spring pruning will involve pruning out any branches that form at the base of the tree, as well as thinning out dead or damaged wood, or any unruly branches that affect the tree’s shape.
More pruning tips
Learn when to prune: