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Are there true red and true blue Rose Of Sharon?

West Babylon, NY(Zone 7a)

At home depot and lowes on occasion I see bright red and deep blue "rose of Sharon" being sold. The red variety always looks double petaled as you can't see the pollen in the middle. The blue variety is a mid blue ( not lavender), a true blue color!

I was wondering if the red is really a small hibiscus being sold as rose of Sharon, and if the blue flowers are really white flowers dyed?

I find them on eBay too and look the same as in store, but since rose of Sharon and HH are closely related I'm confused if they are mislabeling them.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Can you post some pictures? There is no true blue ROS nor true red but it's hard to say what they're actually selling without seeing pictures. There are ones that get marketed as being blue or red, but the blue ones are definitely on the lavender side and the red is more pinkish.

The ones you see on eBay could very well be photoshopped, I've seen a lot of hibiscus for sale on eBay that is clearly photoshopped. For the ones at Lowes & Home Depot though that's not possible, and I'd be surprised if they were dyed. So I suspect more likely they're mislabeled but you never know! There are other Hibiscus species that come in red (double red tropical hibiscus are fairly common), but I can't think of any Hibiscus species at all that come in true blue so that one puzzles me.

Tipp City, OH(Zone 5b)

Wonder if they make them more "blue" by adding acid or whatever they do to make hydrangeas extra blue....

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Hibiscus flowers aren't pink/blue depending on pH the way hydrangeas are, that's something that is fairly unique to a couple species of Hydrangeas. Climate conditions can influence the color of at least tropical hibiscus (I've found variation in flower color in the same cultivar in cooler weather vs warmer weather, and between people growing the same cultivar in FL or TX vs CA) but there's never a naturally true blue hibiscus of any species or a true red H. syriacus (rose of sharon) no matter what the conditions.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I don't think the blue one is real--the flowers themselves look fake to me, and I don't think that shade of blue exists anywhere in nature. So I'd stay far, far away from that seller, looks like a Photoshop job to me so who knows what you'd really get

The red one 'Lucy' is a real cultivar, but if you look at that picture it looks on the pink side to me, not true red. Pictures in Plant Files also show it as being on the pink side In plants that don't actually come in red, you'll often find the cultivars that come the closest to red will be called "red" even though they're really a deep pink instead.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

When I 1st started gardening, I bought quite a few plants (iris, daylilies, roses, hibiscus, you name it) that showed dazzling colors in the vendor's photos but turned out to be quite mundane in reality. Eventually, I learned to search for photos of plants/flowers, other than the photos provided by the seller, BEFORE I buy. That's actually how I found Dave's Garden. The photos in Plant Files, most of which were taken by 'real people' with nothing to sell, gave me a much better overview of what I could really expect from a particular plant. These days I check the Plant Files photos 1st before buying any plant.

West Babylon, NY(Zone 7a)

I appreciate your help, I'm staying away from the blue unless I do find one that's actually really.

The red rose of Sharon however I Did see in person and the color was not pink but a deep red like a rose. I hope home depot gets them again that is where I saw them and first week they arrived they were sold out!

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I don't think what you saw at HD was rose of sharon then (and definitely not the same cultivar that was shown in that eBay listing). The closest you'll get to red in ROS is a deep pink, similar to that 'Lucy' cultivar. There may be some that are a deeper pink than Lucy, but they will always be on the pink side not a true red.

Double red (true red) tropical hibiscus are pretty common, and HD isn't know for correctly labeling their plants or for selling things that are zone-appropriate, so I very much suspect the plant you saw there was a tropical hibiscus not ROS. If they get them again make sure to take some pictures, then someone can tell you for sure what it is. Hardy hibiscus (H. moscheutos) and Texas star hibiscus (H. coccineus) can both come in true red as well, although I'm not aware of any double-flowered varieties of either one.

West Babylon, NY(Zone 7a)

Ok I clearly remember it said "red rose of sharon tree."

Here are look alikes, see if they are hibiscus.
2- heres a red,white,blue 3 in 1

Also, found this on the DG plant database, a deep red ROS. Unless its a fake listing, they very well do exist.

This message was edited Aug 15, 2012 5:46 PM

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Unfortunately, it's not that easy. Oh, how we all wish it were, but it's not.

For starters, I would highly recommend you check out sellers in Garden Watchdog. If you do so, you will find that Direct Gardening has a less than stellar record. Not sure about Burgess but expect something similar.

You absolutely cannot believe or rely on seller photos, nor can you use them to prove your point. Unfortunately, these days even many reputable sellers are posting Photoshop enhanced photos.

A reputable seller should give a cultivar name. If it's some 'new', 'miracle', plant with awesome color but no name, that alone should signal a problem. If they give a cultivar name, you should be able to find additional photos of that specific plant (blooms) using Plant Files and/or Google. Looking at several photos from various places should give you a better indication of the true color.

Lastly, as ecrane pointed out, you also can't go by color names in plant descriptions. "Red", for instance, doesn't always mean 'fire engine red'. In plants like ROS, iris, African Violet, and others for which there is to date no true red, red is accepted to mean something more like "near red" or "almost red". "Red" blooms in such plants range from deep rose to dark blue-red (wine). 'Red' is used in this sense in Plant Files because it is used this way in the industry (plant societies, etc). It still, unfortunately, doesn't mean true red.

The same is true of other colors. Blue, for instance. I've bought a dozen or more 'blue' iris, represented by photos showing awesome sky or marine blue flowers and 'official' descriptions indicating 'blue', only to find that the blooms are actually a lavender blue or purple. It's just the way it is.

Bottom line, like ecrane, I don't believe either of those pictures for a minute. There are no ROS with blooms that color. Sorry. I'm sure hibridizers are busily working at that problem, and maybe someday there will be one but not now.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I totally agree with DreamOfSpring. Both Burgess & Direct Gardening have pretty bad ratings in Watchdog (they're actually affiliated with each other/owned by the same company) so I wouldn't trust what they say, and the lighting in which you take a photo (even if you don't Photoshop it) can make things look more red/blue than they really are. I've seen other examples with those vendors where their photos are somewhat deceptive (if I remember right, it was on butterfly bush/Buddleia, which also doesn't come in true red or true blue so very similar situation to the ROS). And as DOS pointed out, in plants that don't actually come in true red & true blue people will often take the things that come closest (even if they're actually deep pink or purplish/lavender) and call them red or blue because that's the closest you can get.

As far as that cultivar you found in Plant Files: a) there's no picture, just the note that whoever made the entry put in about the flower color (you may not be aware, but entries in Plant Files are created by people like you & me, it's not necessarily plant experts putting things in. So without a picture, I don't believe the flower color). And b) when I google for that cultivar, I come up with absolutely no references to it besides this entry in Plant Files, so I question whether it's even a legitimate cultivar.

And lastly, regarding the tag you saw that said "red Rose of Sharon tree" I mentioned previously Home Depot quite often has mislabeled plants (not necessarily their fault--typically they come mislabeled from whatever 2nd rate wholesale grower they buy things from), so it's very possible that they had a double red tropical hibiscus and called it rose of sharon. I got the sense that you actually saw the flowers (and not just a picture of the flower on the plant label), in which case I stand by my theory that it was a red tropical hibiscus, but if you didn't actually see flowers and were just going by the name on the tag and/or a picture, then it's very possible it's one of the ROS's that's closest to red but still really pink, but gets called red because that's as close as you can get.

Tipp City, OH(Zone 5b)

Found this under reviews on the Spring Hill Nursery:

"Freedom Rose of Sharon - Reviews, Consumer Ratings & Comparisons
Write an online review and share your thoughts with other customers
Sort Reviews : Newest | Oldest | Highest Rating | Lowest Rating
:: Viewing page 1 of 1
- Tuesday, July 03, 2012
not red !!!
Reviewed By: Terry (RLB, Il.)
I bought these " red " shrubs shoting for the red white and blue corner to my green fence... they ended up being a dark pink ...which I bought from home depot for less than half the price...I gave them a 2 because they are still a great looking shrub "

Hope this is helpful - red can be such a subjective color.....

West Babylon, NY(Zone 7a)

That is helpful, thank you.

I wondered, if someone cross bred a red hibiscus with dark pink rose of Sharon, it might produce red hybrid.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I've never heard of any inter-species hybrid hibiscus, so I don't think you can cross any of the species that can produce red flowers with ROS and get viable seeds (if it was that easy to make a red ROS, someone would have done it years ago)

Nutley, NJ(Zone 6b)

See the following page on North American Hibiscus species and their hybrids:

Hibiscus section Muenchhusia

Hybrids can be created between all pairs of species, and also between all of these species and Hibiscus mutabilis (section Venusti). (In the latter case only with Hibiscus mutabilis as the seed parent.) Consequently it may be worth attempting to create hybrids between species in section Muenchhusia and other species in section Venusti. Intrasectional hybrids have contributed to the variety of cultivars belonging to this section.

Also see:

Hibiscus section Venusti

Hybrids have been created between Hibiscus mutabilis and all species of section Muenchhusia, with the former as the seed parent.) Consequently it may be worth attempting to create hybrids between species in section Muenchhusia and the other species in section Venusti, and between species of section Venusti.

There is one hybrid which is sold under the name Hibiscus mutabilis 'Rubrum'.

There is one South Carolina gardener, with whom I correspond, who is working on hybrids of H. syriacus but it is too early to report conclusive results just yet but some of the preliminary findings are very interesting.


West Babylon, NY(Zone 7a)

You were right, the red was hibiscus, I did snap a photo of the red rose of sharon, 'Lucy'. Being some flowers do get red coloring in them, I wonder if crossing them with this would actually get us closer to true red.

Thumbnail by keithp2012

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