Difference Between Chinese Hibiscus and Rose of Sharon
By Laura Lee - January 1, 2023

The connection between these two tropical blooms is fascinating. Rose of Sharon is a relative of other prominent Hibiscus types because it belongs to the genus hibiscus and the variety Hibiscus syriacus. Essentially, all Hibiscus are Rose of Sharon’s, but not all Rose of Sharon’s are hibiscus. The plant known as ‘Hibiscus’ as a common name is Chinese Hibiscus or Rose of China. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the botanical name for this plant. However, the distinctions do not end there.

Summary Chart

  1. Hardiness zones of USDA 9-11
Hardiness zone of USDA 5-8
  1. Also known asĀ  Tropical hibiscus
Also known as Althea


Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Flower

Getty images/Moment/ anand purohit

Chinese Hibiscus vs. Rose of Sharon

Botanists think the Hibiscus species evolved as a red-flowering shrub in tropical southern Asia, most likely in southern China. The rose-of-Sharon is likewise from China, although it grows higher up and subtropical to temperate regions.

Chinese hibiscus bushes can grow 3-10 feet tall and broad. However, they usually appear circular or as upright ovals. Rose of Sharon plants may grow 5-14 feet tall and 4-10 feet broad.


The leaf of the Chinese hibiscus is evergreen. Each glossy green leaf blade is oval or broad-lance in shape and may have a few tiny teeth. A typical size is 6 inches long. Rose-of-Sharon leaves, on the other hand, are deciduous in the winter. The form of the green leaf ranges from large ovals to triangular or diamond-shaped, with three shallow lobes. Rose-of-Sharon leaves are shorter, up to 4 inches long, and have gritty teeth bordering the edges. Their blooms emerge singly or in pairs from the bases of leaves on sun-exposed branches. The flower center is frequently a contrasting deeper hue of pink or red, while the stamens are white. Flowering takes place between midsummer and mid-fall. The blooms look like trumpets with five petals and ultimately spread wide, although not quite as broad as the Chinese hibiscus, which blooms all year in warm conditions. The flower comprises five petals that spread broad and flat around a thin floral tube. Solitary blooms sprout from the tops of twigs and branches.