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 article is both a lesson in pruning a rose of Sharon and a cautionary tale.
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.
Pollinators love rose of Sharons. I’ve seen bees coming out of a flower, covered in pollen, and hummingbirds flitting about the blooms.
When to shear rose of Sharon seed pods
Pruning a rose of Sharon can happen in the fall, but if you prefer to wait until late winter or early spring when the plant is still dormant, it’s important to know when to get rid of the seed pods. When the shrub is in bloom, keep an on it as the blooms start to fade. Those blooms will turn into fat, green seed pods, each containing several seeds.
You want to make sure you trim them off before they start to turn brown and open. Use a sharp pair of pruners to trim the seed pods from the tips of all the branches. Don’t add rose of Sharon pods to your compost pile. You could eventually be pulling seedlings out of anywhere you spread the compost in the garden.
Here’s a video showing how I shear the seed pods in the fall to keep my rose of Sharons from self-sowing all over the garden:
Pruning a rose of Sharon in early spring
Once your rose of Sharon buds are taken care of, you don’t have to do anything until the following year. Rose of Sharons are best pruned when dormant because the blooms will grow on new wood. However you can prune them immediately after flowering in the fall. This will help take care of the aforementioned seed pods and the actual pruning all in one go. I usually prune mine in late winter or early spring. It’s important to note that a rose of Sharon is among the last shrubs to get its leaves in the spring. Every year I think I’ve killed mine, but they always come back (eventually).
Using a sharp pair of loppers, prune out any branches that form at the base of the tree. This is also a good opportunity to thin out dead or damaged wood, or any unruly branches that affect the tree’s shape. Lastly, prune for shape, removing any branches that are too tall or growing in a direction you don’t want them to. Never prune more than a third of the total height of the shrub.
More pruning tips for other shrubs
Learn when to prune: