On a recent trip to Michigan to visit family, I was captivated by the Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) bush in their front yard. It was a magnet for everything with wings! One afternoon, I dragged a lawn chair into the shade by the bush to watch for about an hour to see what visitors I could spot, including:
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), female
Honeybees (Apis mellifera)
And plenty more I didn’t capture photos of, including other varieties of bees, wasps, and flies. I also spotted other butterflies using the flowers for nectar, including a Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes), Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele), and Cabbage White (Pieris rapae). Dragonflies were using the branches to perch, and small songbirds flitted in and out of the shelter of the branches. It was simply amazing how this one small bush was providing food and shelter for so many different species all at once.
Rose of Sharon is native to Asia, and usually grown in the U.S. in zones 5 – 8. It blooms summer through fall, and is easy to grow in most soils and conditions. It can be pruned into a hedge or tree form, or left to ramble wild. Find multiple cultivars at your local garden center, or ask a friend or neighbor for a stem cutting from one in their yard to root. (Learn how here.) One word of caution: this non-native shrub is considered invasive in some areas. If you’re concerned, check with your local extension office to find out if Rose of Sharon is right for your yard.
What wildlife do you see on your Rose of Sharon bushes? Come chat about it in our Gardening Forums!