The alcea rosea is, with its luminous colors and beautiful flowers, a valued asset for every garden. The real eye-catcher of the hollyhock is its height. The flower attracts attention with its huge blossoms which shine in several bright colors. It is also known as common peony or common mallow. It also emphasizes the beauty of any accompanying plant in your summer flower bed. By adhering to this cultivation and care instruction you will have an idea of what to take special care of.
- Plant Profile
- Mallow: The Everywhere Edible Weed
- Garden Plans For Mallow
- Mallow Flowers
- Mallow Plant Care
- More Varieties Of Mallow
- Plant Mallow With:
- Rose Mallow Seeds – Lavatera Trimestris Loveliness Flower Seed
- How to Grow Lavatera Plants
- Guide to Growing Tree Mallow, Royal Mallow, & Rose Mallow
- Lavatera Growing and Care Guide
- How to Grow Mallow (Lavatera)
- Caring for Lavatera in the garden
- Plant family: Mallow family (Malvaceae)
- Genus: Hollyhock (Alcea)
- Species: Ordinary hollyhock (Alcea rosea)
- Trivial name: Hollyhock, common hollyhock, common peony
- Origin: Balkans, Southern to Eastern Europe, middle and far-eastern region
- perennial, herbaceous plant
- plant height up to 100 to 200 cm, rarely up to 300 cm.
- flowering period depends on location and lies between May and September
- multi-colored, bowl-shaped blossoms ranging in color from white to dark violet
- deciduous, rounded, dented, rough and big leaves
- biennial, hermaphrodite, self-seeding plant
It rises into the sky like a candle. The bowl-shaped leafs of the flower are leaving a fantastic impression. It is especially beautiful to look at in a farmer’s garden. The annual or biennial hardy hollyhock impresses just as much as an individual plant.
Its flowering period stretches until September. The alcea rosea starts out as a tiny plant with deep-green leaves and can grow until up to two meters. It will shine the brightest once its blossoms burst open.
The origin of the hollyhock flower lies in eastern and southern Europe as well as the middle and far-eastern region. Its genus was first published in the year 1753 by Carl von Linné in the species plantarum. Albert Spear Hitchcock and Jesse Robinson Green determined the alcea rosea as a Lectotypus in the year 1929 in the standard-species of Linnaean genera of phaneograms.
Some species are being cultivated in subtropical areas and environments with a moderate climate. The distinction is often unclear. Due to this it is possible that other cultivated species are being listed as alcea rosea.
The magnificent flower is relatively undemanding. As a biennial plant it grows its glorious blossoms in the second year. Fulfill your desire of beautiful flowers by abiding this care instruction.
In order to grow high and healthy the flower prefers a location with plenty of exposure to the sunlight. It also gets used to semi-shady spots. The flower furthermore prefers spots that protect it from wind. Due to its height it requires a safe location. Plants that grow especially tall should be fixated. Hollyhocks are growing lavishly and with full blossoms if you place them on the south side of flower beds or on house walls.
The impressive plants prefer the following soil conditions:
- nutrient-rich and water-permeable
- pH-value of 6,5 to 7,2
Place them in a spot where the soil does not dry out too heavily. By adding mulch to the soil you can prevent the soil from getting too hard. The mulch furthermore keeps all of the nutrients in the soil. Make sure to water regularly however avoid water logging which is pernicious to the proper development of the blossoms.
Almost every kind of soil is suitable for you to plant the hollyhock yourself. Try to pick soil with added mold. You can also add the mold by adding compost or potting soil. As a substrate, commercially sold potting soil will be just fine. Occasional watering of the plant with pond water complements the nutrients. Nitrogen is very good for the plant.
The planting time of the hollyhock stretches from spring to fall. By the time your plants have grown in your garden you can easily multiply them. When they finished blossoming simply let the inflorescences stay and dry out. Rub open the inflorescences with your hands and distribute the seeds into the bed and work them into the soil.
Until spring, several tiny hollyhocks will grow which can then be separated as desired. The multiplication of the common hollyhock will thus cause little problems for the gardener.
Plants in the bed
If you would like to plant hollyhocks on your own, it is recommended to do so in spring. Even though the alcea rosea does not have a lot of soil requirements, you should nevertheless thoroughly prepare the soil. Included in this is the process of digging up the shrub bed in which the hollyhock will be placed. It suffices to loosen the ground and aerate the soil. Hollyhocks grow tap roots which aim to slightly enter the ground. You should remove wild herbs, dried roots and stones.
Add simultaneously compost and potting soil and furthermore add some gravel in order to develop a fine crumbled, loose soil layer before the time of planting. The distance between the plants depends on the expected height. A distance of at least 50 cm is ideal. Larger plants should be placed alone.
Following is an instruction to properly plant the flower:
- dig holes with a respective gap of at least 50 to 90 cm between them
- add a layer of potting soil and some gravel in the event the soil is too heavy
- plant the hollyhock in a manner so that the threads of the root do not bend
Do not press on the soil too firmly. You can use stale water to flower the plant. Placing horn shavings on the location of the plant keeps the soil loose
When planting in a planter you should make sure that the planter is big enough. Due to its large growth you should only plant one hollyhock per planter. Regarding proper drainage, place some clay shards on the openings of the bottom of the plant. There should be enough space for a trellis in your pot or flower basket.
Pull the trellis out once the plant has grown approximately one meter in height. Keep in mind that the hollyhock grows its blossoms in the second year.
The hollyhock does not thrive in dry soils. In warm and dry summer months it requires daily watering. In order not to harm the big blossoms you should water the plant through the bottom. Always regard and take care of proper drainage so that the shrub is not being water logged. If your alcea rosea is in a pot you should wait ten minutes until the water is drained through the soil and the trivet. Drain the water. Water before the outer surface gets dry.
The alcea rosea requires fertilization from spring until the blossoms are fully developed. Its lifeblood is nitrogen. Initial fertilization can be done with manure or liquid fertilizer added to the watering can. When and how much fertilizer should be used depends on the location.
Keep going with the fertilization in the following way:
- the alcea rosea does not require many nutrients in nutrient-rich soil
- after adding compost or uric acid in the spring, second treatment should be exercised in the fall
- plants in a pot should regularly be fertilized
- recommended is the fertilization every second week
- this includes alcea rosea in poor soil
Commencing with the month of September the hollyhock like many perennials does not require any further fertilization.
You can cut back the hollyhock directly after flowering. This will practically result in an increased lifespan of the plant as the hollyhock will blossom with several new blossoms and even more lavishly. The flowering period ends in September or October.
- cut back the stalks to 10 cm
- you can also fully cut back the plant
- if you want to multiply your hollyhock you should cut only after the seeds have ripened
- it is also possible to postpone the cutting until spring
Of utmost importance is the usage of a sharp knife or sharp garden shears. Unclean cuts with improper tools could result in damages to the plant. This weakens the plant. Recommended is thus the usage of loppers and rose shears. If you would like to avoid excessive seeding you should remove dry inflorescences.
With ordinary winter conditions in central Europe you do not have to affect any special measures for winter storage of your hollyhocks. The alcea rosea easily withstands frost and snow. Due to this the hollyhock can easily hibernate in the garden or the shrub bed. Even younger hollyhocks are easily surviving colder months of winter.
Take special care of your hollyhocks in a bucket. The planter has to be able to withstand cold weather and be frost-resistant. Do not let the bale of your perennial dry out during the winter. If the temperature lies constantly above 0 degrees Celsius you should regularly water the plant. Cover younger plants that have been cultivated indoors during the fall with sticks. This protects and shelters them from cold temperatures.
Hollyhocks can be easily multiplied in the garden. If you let the inflorescences stay and not pay any attention to them they will self-seed and thus grow several offshoots.
Aside from this you can easily multiply the alcea rosea:
Let the inflorescences, those inconspicuous capsules, stay and do not cut them. The inflorescences on the plant dry out. In the fall you can easily pull off the capsules which contain the seeds from the flower.
Subsequently rub them open and spread the seeds on the desired location on your shrub bed or any location where you would like for hollyhocks to grow. Bury the seeds into the soil. At that very location there will be several tiny hollyhocks grown by spring. You can separate them, e.g. one plant every 50 cm.
Regard the following:
- there will be no blossoms during the first year. New plants are solely growing leaf rosettes
- in the following year after the frost, flower stems and magnificent malve blossoms will appear
- the alcea rosea will seed by itself if old inflorescences persist, in that case there will be new plants every year
By seeding during fall you will receive approximately 25 hollyhock seedlings per square meter in spring. Carefully dig up the seedlings and place them in holes which have been dug up with a distance of each 50 to 90 centimeters. It does not pose any problem to directly plant the hollyhock cuttings into the bed.
You can prefer the seeding during the winter in pots indoors. This is not by all means necessary because the hollyhocks can easily withstand being exposed to cold weather conditions in the bed. If you are still convinced on doing it then you can spread the cuttings in spring until May as usual.
The alcea rosea is vulnerable to mallow rust. This is a fungal disease which typically shows by red-brown pustules on the lower side of the leaf. On the upper side of the leaf one can observe tiny yellow spots. The fungus occurs in spring and can itself hibernate with the plant. Affected leaves should be removed during spring. Parts that have been cut should be disposed of in your residual waste. If the fungus is in its early stage it is possible to treat it with anti-fungal agents.
Lice or worms
They can easily be removed together with the affected leaves. In the event of severe infestation you can use insecticides.
The flew can be identified by tiny holes in the middle of the leaf it leaves behind with an otherwise unscathed leaf vein. The bug itself is black, blue or green with red legs. Loosening up the earth and watering regularly helps prevent the occurrence.
Snails are especially feeding on young leaves. Use slug pallets in early spring.
Use stinging nettle manure. Crush nettle leaves and add them to a cup with rainwater. Place it in the sun and stir daily. Spray it in the morning on the leaves in a dilution of 1:10. Alternatively use a soap solution out of curd soap. Use one tablespoon of liquid curd soap on one liter of water. Spray as well on the leaves in the mornings.
Mallow, any of several flowering plants in the hibiscus, or mallow, family (Malvaceae), especially those of the genera Hibiscus and Malva. Hibiscus species include the great rose mallow (H. grandiflorus), with large white to purplish flowers; the soldier rose mallow (H. militaris), a shrub that grows to a height of 2 metres (6 feet); and the common, or swamp, rose mallow (H. moscheutos).
Several Malva species are cultivated in gardens, especially the musk mallow (M. moschata), growing up to 1 metre (3 feet) high, with rose-mauve or white flowers in summer, and high mallow (M. sylvestris), the leaves and flowers of which have been used medicinally. Another musk mallow, Abelmoschus moschatus (H. abelmoschus), is widely cultivated in tropical Asia for its musky-smelling seeds.
The marsh mallow (Althea officinalis), a perennial plant native to eastern Europe and northern Africa, is naturalized in North America, especially in marshy areas near the sea; its root was formerly processed to make marshmallow confections.
Other mallows include the globe, or false, mallows (Sphaeralcea) such as the prairie, red false, or scarlet globe, mallow (S. coccinea) and the trailing mallow (S. philippiana); Jew’s mallow, or Tossa jute (Corchorus olitorius), from tropical Asia, a secondary source of jute; tree mallow (Lavatera arborea), up to 3 metres (10 feet), from Europe but naturalized along coastal California; wax mallow (Malvaviscus arboreus), a reddish flowering ornamental shrub from South America; poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata), a hairy perennial, low-growing, with poppy-like reddish flowers; and Indian mallow, also called velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti), a weedy plant. Chaparral mallows (Malacothamnus species), a group of shrubs and small trees, are native to California and Baja California. The Carolina mallow (Modiola caroliniana) is a weedy, creeping wild flower of the southern United States.
Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Subscribe today
Mallow: The Everywhere Edible Weed
Every spring, the first signs of life in my mulch (and everywhere else in my garden and neighborhood) are these ubiquitous weeds. You probably have them too. They invade lawns, landscapes, parkways, parking lots, drainage ditches, and all nooks and crannies when the weather is cool and damp.
In climates where winters are mild, they start popping up in November or December if there have been some early rains. They usually appear in neglected areas and it doesn’t take long for a few plants to overrun a plot. With deep woody taproots and a fast growing habit, they’re often considered invasive.
Mallow is a much maligned weed to gardeners who feel the same disdain for dandelions. But did you know this common weed is actually edible?
Common mallow (Malva neglecta — how appropriately named) and little mallow (Malva parviflora) belong to the same family of plants as marshmallow and hibiscus.
(Speaking of marshmallow, the confection eaten today was originally made from the sap of the roots of mallow grown in marshes, hence the name. Though candy makers now use gelatin in place of the sap, the name has stuck since the early 1800s when it was introduced to France.)
The plant is easily recognizable by its geranium-like leaves with five or seven lobes. Some have deeper lobes while others are nearly round.
Its flowers seem small and drab compared to its dramatic display of leaves, which look their best in winter and spring when the ground is moist.
Mallow is sometimes called cheeseweed, and if you look closely at its fruiting head, it resembles a miniature wheel of cheese with wedge-shaped sections.
It doesn’t taste like cheese, however. While mallow is edible, it isn’t the most exciting green you can forage from your yard. It has a mild, almost nonexistent flavor, and that probably works to its advantage. Like tofu, it just takes on the flavor of everything else in your bowl.
So why would you eat it? For starters, mallow is highly nutritious. The plant is exceptionally rich in vitamins A, B, and C, along with calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The tender young leaves actually have one of the highest amounts of vitamin A in any vegetable.
They also have a mucilaginous quality, similar to okra, and can be used to thicken soups and stews. (I’m personally waiting for the next round of mallow to spring up in my garden so I can try it in my gumbo!)
When using the leaves raw, I like to mix mallow into a bed of other salad greens to counter that slight viscous texture. You can’t really tell once it’s dressed and tossed with your favorite salad accouterments — or you might even like it as-is in its raw, natural state.
The whole plant is edible — root, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits. I’ve only tried the last three. The flowers have the same nondistinctive flavor of the leaves, while the fruits are pleasant and a little nutty (make sure to pick them when they’re still fresh and green).
I’ll admit that I don’t go out of my way to forage for mallow, but it’s fun to find in my garden because it’s essentially free food. I like to add a few leaves of this wild weed to a spring salad once in a while (along with my other favorite weeds, nasturtiums and dandelions).
That is, if my chickens don’t get to it first.
- Name also: High Mallow, Tall Mallow, Blue Mallow, Cheese-cake,
Pick-cheese, Round Dock, Country-mallow, Wild Mallow, Wood Mallow
- Family: Mallow Family – Malvaceae
- Growing form: Biennial or perennial herb.
- Height: 30–100 cm (12–40 in.). Stem lax, ascending–erect, stellate and straght-haired.
- Flower: Regular (actinomorphic), 3–6 cm (1.2–2.4 in.) wide. Petals 5, reddish purple, darkly veined, lighter at the base, notched. Calyx 5-lobed. Epicalyx of 3 narrowly elliptic leaves. Stamens numerous, stalks grown together surrounding the pistil like a tube. Pistil of several fused carpels. Flowers in pairs or small clusters borne in leaf axils.
- Leaves: Alternate, stalked, with stipuli. Blade kidney-shaped–cordate, hairy–nearly hairless, glossy on upper side, shallowly 3–7-lobed, lobes half-rounded–ovate, toothed.
- Fruit: Schizocarp broad, flat, ring-like. Mericarps (carpels) with wrinkled surface, sharp-toothed, hairless–hairy, 1-seeded.
- Habitat: Harbour sites, embark points, gardens, waysides, wastelands.
- Flowering time: July–September.
Common mallow is an old accompaniment of our culture, and is found practically exclusively on the fringe of and near human settlements. In the past it has been spread so diligently all over Europe and finally all over the world, that the borders of its original geographical range are now hazy. It is, however, supposed to be a Eurasian plant of relatively dry and open spaces.
Common mallow was traditionally a useful plant which was highly regarded as vegetable, but most of all as a versatile medicinal plant. Up to the beginning of modern times, the species had a reputation of being a universal remedy. Mallow reduced fever, relieved nearly all pains and healed insect stings and wounds. Mallow leaf was used to induce childbirth and act as an indicator for a woman’s fertility. It was believed that mallow helped people rise above their urges and passions, so it was an important antidote for love potions. And best of all, mallow pills could cure stupidity! A large part of those folk traditions connected with mallow’s medicinal uses are purely superstitious, but no smoke without fire: mallow contains compounds which activate the immune defence system as well as substances soothing infections, and its medicinal uses are still being researched.
Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family
Trees and bushes from the same family
A close relative of hollyhock, the mallow is an easy-to-grow, short-lived perennial that is easily started from seed. Tall stems of small blossoms are held high above softly lobed kidney-shape foliage that looks great mixed among larger shrubs and other perennials. Planted once, mallow will often reseed itself for a continuous display of blooms year after year. The flat, buttonlike seed pods resemble tiny wheels of cheese—leading to mallow’s lesser known name of cheese weed.
Garden Plans For Mallow
Mallow’s flowers come in shades of pink, white, purple, red, yellow, or orange, which look stunning when planted en masse in cottage gardens or borders. Individual flowers comprise five heart-shape petals, many of which will feature darker veins. The flowers appear from early summer until fall, as long as deadheading takes place to encourage continued blooming. Mallow’s large medium-green leaves make a coarsely textured background for its flowers and other nearby plants. Some species are grown specifically for their flowers. Other species are prized for their leaves, which are used as vegetables when cooking or medical remedies.
Mallow Plant Care
Mallow is easy to grow and start from seed, as long as you choose a location that provides moist, well-drained, organically rich soil and full sun. The latter promotes vigorous growth and reduces the need for staking. Plant the seeds directly in the garden and keep the area evenly moist until plants emerge. Most species of this plant are short-lived perennials; others are annuals or biannuals—the latter of which will not bloom during the first season after planting. Stay alert, though, because mallow’s enthusiasm for self-sowing can cause it to invade lawns, fields, roadways, even urban waste areas—especially in North America where it is not native.
See more perennials for dry climates here.
Japanese beetles consider the foliage and flowers of this plant to be tasty treats. Mallow is prone to rust (small orange-to-brown blisters on the undersides of leaves), especially during the heat of summer. Although not harmful to the plant, rust is unsightly. Control rust by removing affected leaves early on and keeping foliage dry.
Learn how to stop Japanese beetles from eating your mallow plants.
More Varieties Of Mallow
Small musk-scented rose-pink flowers bloom profusely from early summer to early fall. The leaves also release a musky scent, especially when crushed. Zones 3-8
Malva sylvestris is the most commonly found mallow. These come in shades of pink and purple, often with darker veining of the blooms. Zones 4-8.
‘Zebrina’ Tree Mallow
Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’ has 2-inch pinkish flowers brilliantly centered and veined with strong purple. These cluster in the axils of dark green, lobed leaves on shrubby 3-foot stems. Zones 4-8.
Plant Mallow With:
Obedient plant is named for the way flowers that are moved to a new position on the stem stay in place, much to the delight of children.It produces showy, unusual flower spikes with little tubular flowers in white, pink, or purple. They’re excellent as cut flowers. Square stems carry pairs of mid-green (sometimes variegated), lance-shaped foliage, toothed along the edges. Obedient plant tolerates most soils, but tends to become aggressive when given ample water and full sun. It tolerates most soils.
The inflated buds of balloon flowers are fun to pop. And they make great cut flowers. Cut them in the bud stage, and sear the base of the stems to prevent the milky sap from seeping out and fouling the water.Most commonly available in blue-violet, balloon flowers also come in pink and white, as well as shorter forms that are better suited for rock gardens and containers. In fall, the foliage of balloon flower turns clear gold, so don’t cut the plant down too early — enjoy the show! They tolerate light shade, but not wet feet or drought.
Globe thistle is one of the most elegantly colored plants around. It has fantastical large blue balls of steel blue flowers in midsummer, which would be enough. But making it even more lovely are its large coarse, grayish-green leaves, which set off the flower beautifully.If you can bear to separate them from the foliage, globe thistle makes a great cut flower, lasting for weeks in the vase. It also dries well. It’s bothered by few pests or diseases. If it likes its conditions, it will reseed fairly readily. If you want to prevent this, deadhead flowers shortly after they fade.
Rose Mallow Seeds – Lavatera Trimestris Loveliness Flower Seed
USDA Zones: 4 – 9
Height: 36 inches
Bloom Season: Early summer to early fall
Bloom Color: Bright rose
Environment: Full sun
Soil Type: Well draining, sandy or loamy soil, but it can tolerate clay soils, pH 6.0 – 8.0
Temperature: 65 – 80F
Average Germ Time: 15 – 20 days
Light Required: Yes
Depth: Surface sow and cover seed with no more than 1/16 inch
Sowing Rate: 3 – 4 seeds per plant
Moisture: Keep seeds moist until germination occurs
Plant Spacing: 18 – 24 inches
Care & Maintenance: Rose Mallow
Rose Mallow (Lavatera Trimestris Loveliness) – Start Rose Mallow seeds for this vision of loveliness! This Lavatera Trimestris Rose Mallow is readily started by flower seeds, and it has extra large 4 – 5 inch bright rose colored flowers with lighter veining. It literally glows pink! This shrub-like plant grows quickly and blooms heavily. The flowers will bloom for many weeks if the faded blooms are removed and where the summers are not too hot. The plant can re-grow the following spring if seed falls on bare ground. Rose Mallow attracts butterflies, beneficial insects and hummingbirds.
How To Grow Rose Mallow From Seed: These lovely flowers are easy to grow from Rose Mallow seeds. It’s best to sow Rose Mallow flower seeds outdoors as seedlings do not transplant real well. After the last frost has passed, prepare garden site, loosening soil. Sow 3 – 4 Rose Mallow seeds in a group, spaced 18 – 24 inches apart. Barely cover the Rose Mallow flower seeds and keep them moist until germination occurs. Thin to strongest plant. Rose Mallow Flower Care: Water regularly and deadhead to promote continual blooms.
How to Grow Lavatera Plants
Guide to Growing Tree Mallow, Royal Mallow, & Rose Mallow
Members of the Lavatera genus can be hardy annuals, biennials or perennials, but are normally treated as hardy annuals in the garden.
They are shrubbery and can reach a height of 60 cm to 1.8 m. They carry pink, purple or white trumpet shaped flowers.
The perennial members of Lavatera flower in the summer, whereas annuals bloom from summer to the first frost of winter.
Some of the common names for Lavatera include Mallow, Annual Mallow, and Tree Mallow.
Lavatera assurgentiflora – Southern island mallow by Brewbooks.
Lavatera tanagra by Photofarmer; creative commons.
Lavatera Growing and Care Guide
Common Names: Tree Mallow, Royal Mallow, Rose Mallow, Annual Mallow, Mission Mallow.
Life Cycle: Hardy annual. Hardy biennial. Hardy perennial commonly grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 24 to 36 inches (30 to 90 cm).
Native: Mediterranean, Central and Eastern Asia, Australasia.
Growing Region: Zones 2 to 10. As a perennial in zones 8 to 10.
Flowers: Annuals: summer to first frost. Perennials: summer.
Flower Details: Red, white, pink. Five petals. Cup shapes. Trumpets.
Foliage: Lobed. Palm-like.
Sow Outside: Cover seed. Every two or three weeks from just before the last frost until mid-spring, and in early autumn in warm climates. Spacing 12 to 30 inches (30 to 75 cm).
Sow Inside: Use peat pots. Germination time: two to three weeks. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Seven or eight weeks before expected last frost. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.
Requirements: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Moist soil. Average soil. Monthly feed. Regular watering. Deadhead. Propagate: cuttings in spring.
How to Grow Mallow (Lavatera)
When growing Mallow and other Lavatera plants outdoors as annuals it is best to sow them continuously from spring to early summer; this will create a continuous bloom of Mallow flowers. Once the sees are sown, simply cover them. Lavatera plants likes to grow in a sunny part of the garden that has good drainage. For the best flowering the soil should not be moist and not too rich.
If planning to first grow indoors, then they should be planted in peat pots, about 7 or 8 weeks before putting out in the garden (transplant Mallow from after the last frost of spring until the start of summer). They take two to three weeks to germinate at 21 degrees Centigrade. They should be spaced at 30 to 45 cm (small Lavatera species) or 60 to 90 cm apart (larger varieties).
Caring for Lavatera in the garden
Once growing, Lavatera should be watered regularly and dead flower heads removed. It is best to fertilize them with a low nitrogen feed. If you require more plants and don’t want to let them self seed then take cuttings at the start of summer.