The Q&A Archives: Red Heart Althea Dying???

Question: My Red Heart Althea is going into it's 3rd season and as of May 28th it still hasn't leafed out. When I scrape a limb there is green underneath but the buds don't seem to be swelling. Any way of shocking it back to life? How long do I give it before yanking it out and starting over? Zone 4/5 Full to partial sun

Answer: Sometimes rose of sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) sustains more winter damage than usual and is delayed leafing out -- it leafs out very late normally anyway. As long as there is green under the bark I would not give up on it. You may need to trim it back somewhat to remove any winter killed stems. Start at the tips of the branches and work your way inward. Dead wood will be off color dull brown or gray, dry and brittle, snap in your hand. Live wood will be somewhat supple and have green under the bark. Pruning it back as hard as needed to remove the winter damage will not hurt the shrub. This plant blooms on new wood of the season so once it starts growing again it will go ahead and bloom later this summer. There is nothing I know of that you can do to jump start it, we just have to be patient.

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