A group of vigorous woody annuals, biennials, perennials and shrubs, suitable for the shrubbery or mixed border. A cottage garden favourite with a long flowering season.
Family: Malvaceae (Mallow family)
Botanical Name: Lavatera
Common Names: Mallow
Foliage: Evergreen or deciduous, lightly or deeply lobed green leaves.
Flowers: Large showy, trumpet-shaped flowers. In shades of white, pink, red, purple etc. (depending on variety). Flowers are mostly single but a few semi-double forms are available.
Flowering Period: Summer
Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (chalk, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.
Conditions: Best in full sun, will tollerate some shade. Plant in an east or south facing aspect. Protect from cold winds.
Habit: Erect, bushy.
Type: Perennial, annual, biennial or shrub.
Origin: Europe, Mediterranean.
Hardiness: Most varieties are reasonably hardy in UK.
Plant container grown shrubby species in spring or sow seeds of annuals in spring, where they are to flower.
Grow in a well-drained, light soil, in a sunny spot. Mallow flower best in poor soils. If the soil is too rich it can cause excessive leaf growth at the expense of flowers. Tolerant of chalky soils.
Ideal for adding a splash of colour to flower and shrub borders. Smaller forms make good container plants.
Mallows attract bees and butterflies, making them ideal for cottage and wildlife gardens. Also a good choice for coastal gardens.
Support annuals with twiggy branches as they grow.
Deadhead regularly to extend the flowering period.
Pull up and discard annuals to the compost heap at the end of the season.
Stems on shrubby varieties can be cut back to within 12in (30cm) of ground level, once new shoots appear in spring.
Can be affected by leaf spot and rust.
Sow annuals outdoors in a prepared seed bed, in April or September, where they are to flower. Just covering the seeds with soil. Thin seedlings to around 18in (45cm) apart in mid spring.
Sow biennials outdoors in May-June.
Note: Annuals and biennials often self seed freely - producing plants the following season.
Take shoot tip cuttings of perennials and short side-shoots of shrubs in spring or late summer. Root in a propagator, using a light open compost.
Lavatera arborea (tree mallow) a biennial plant with grey-green, downy, deeply lobed leaves. Bears large pink, purple-veined flowers on tall spires from July to August. Hardy only in mild areas of UK. Height 6ft (1.8m) or more, spread to 3ft (90cm) or more.
Lavatera x clementii a vigorous semi-evergreen shrub with hairy, grey/green stems and leaves. Attractive, 2-3.5in (5-8cm) saucer-shaped flowers in summer, mainly in shades of pink and white. Cultivars include:
Lavatera olbia (shrub) produces green, rounded or slightly lobed leaves and masses of purplish pink in July-November. Height to 4ft (1.2m). One of the best varieties is 'Rosea', with bright-pink flowers.
Lavatera trimestris (annual) is a bushy erect plant with rounded or slightly lobed leaves. With large rose-pink or white trumpet-shaped flowers (up to 4in across) in July-October. Average height from 2 to 3ft (60 to 90cm). For sale at Van Meuwen. Good garden varieties include: