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Plant Profile: Hollyhock Mallow (Malva alcea)

Malva alceaHollyhock mallow is an herbaceous perennial native to Europe and southwestern Asia. It is a member of the mallow family (Malvacae) that also includes hibiscus, hibiscus, cotton and okra. Stout branched stems carry downy, light green leaves that are rounded, up to six inches long, and have toothed margins and five shallow lobes. The pink to light rose-purple flowers have five notched, two-lobed petals and bloom over four to six weeks beginning in early summer They are two to three inches wide and are carried both along the stem and in terminal spikes. Plants do best in USDA Zones 6 and cooler, as they are susceptible to a bevy of insects and diseases in warmer climates. The genus name, Malva,comes from the ancient Greek word μαλάχη meaning mallow. The specific epithet, alcea, is from the Greek word ἀλκαία referring to a specific type of mallow.

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Bloom: Pink to light rose-purple flowers with two lobed petals beginning in early summer for four to six weeks

Size: 2-3’ H x 18” W

Light: Full sun to light shade (especially in hot climates)

Soil: Average, medium moist, well-darained

Hardiness: Zones 4-8

Care: Deadhead to encourage flowering; cut back to basal foliage after flowerng.

Pests and Diseases: Especially in the south prone to spider mites, thrips, Japanese beetles, foliar diseases

Propagation: Tip cuttings in summer; seed indoors in late winter, outdoors in spring or fall

Companion plants: Garden phlox, yarrows, gayfeathers, artemisias

Outstanding Selections: ‘Fastigiata” (more upright, well branched, and has 2” wide rose-pink flowers)