The rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus, USDA plant hardiness zones 5b to 9a) is one of the best shrubs around as long as you keep it under control. This exotic shrub/tree is prized for its large and lovely flowers. It is easy to grow in above-ground planters and in most kinds of soil. This plant does well in sun and partial shade and looks nice on patios and decks. The rose of Sharon does have a darker side, though: its invasive root system.
Does Rose of Sharon Have Invasive Roots?
This hardy perennial plant can get out of control in yards and gardens and needs to be pruned accordingly. Its roots grow right beneath the surface of the soil, so they should not cause damage to any structures. However, they can grow up to 12 feet high and can spread out, so rose of Sharon should not be planted close to septic tanks or drainpipes.
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Though its red, pink, white or purple flowers can be vibrant and beautiful, rose of Sharon is considered to be an invasive plant. This is why many gardeners prefer to grow it in containers. Furthermore, the plants drop hundreds of seeds into the ground after each blooming, and new shoots grow up from the ground next to the mother plant. Pull out young seedlings right away before they establish their own roots.
The Rose of Sharon Root System
When a rose of Sharon is taking over too much space, it may be best to dig it up and transplant it. Cut the shrub down to the ground and then dig it up. The rose of Sharon's root system is pretty shallow, so you shouldn't have to dig in too deep. Take a chainsaw or gardening shears and chop off all the branches and suckers. Then, cut the rose of Sharon down to the soil. Using pruning shears or a shovel, dig up all of the roots that you see. Be advised that with older plants, this may be more difficult.
You will probably keep seeing new shoots, at least for a while. Be persistent and continue removing them before they develop further. In addition to cutting and digging, you may cover the area with black plastic for about a year, which will kill off everything. You can also mow over new shoots if you'd like. Remember that the key is persistence with these invasive plants.
Transplanting Rose of Sharon
In order to transplant a rose of Sharon, first wait until it is dormant and then trim it and cut it to the ground. Dig out a new hole that is twice the size of the root ball and add some compost before planting. They do best in well-draining, slightly acidic soil. Water the transplant well and it should come back to life during the next growing season.
In order to keep the rose of Sharon happy, make sure that you water it deeply but not that often, as it is drought tolerant. Check the soil's moistness if you are not sure. You may also add shredded bark mulch to give it an added boost.