The Q&A Archives: Rubis Althea

Question: I have a Rose of Sharon - Rubis Althea - I know this is a shrub but have seen then pruned so they grow like a tree. I have even seen them with the main stems braided to form the tree trunk. I planted 2 last fall and they are both very small at this time but I would like for them to look like a tree and not a shrub. How do I do this?

Answer: "Rubis" is a named variety of Hibiscus syriacus, the hardy shrub. If left unpruned, these will naturally develop into a tree-like form. Over time, you could accentuate the shaping by gradually removing some of the lower branches. Sometimes, however, pruning is unavoidable if there is extensive winter damage. To minimize the chances of winter damage, plant them in a full sun location with well drained soil and with protection from sweeping winter winds and do not overfertilize. I would not recommend braiding the trunks. I believe this is more commonly seen with the tropical hibiscus, H. rosa-sinensis.

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