The hollyhock mallow (Malva alcea) is a low-maintenance and easy-to-grow perennial flower that adds a splash of bright color to any garden.
Although it isn't particularly long-lived, it does self-sow readily if the conditions are right, so you might find new plants cropping up the following year.
This upright species is ideal for use as a border plant and looks good in an informal wildflower meadow or cottage garden settings. Delivering large, vibrant, and showy pinkish-purple, five-petaled flowers in the summer and fall, they can even be picked and used as a pretty edible garnish for salads.
The dense, bushy foliage on the plant is also attractive, and this adds interest from early spring right through to the fall. The leaves and young shoots are also edible raw or cooked. Although they aren't full of flavor, they can make a good substitute for lettuce.
For gardeners that love to attract pollinators to their garden, the hollyhock mallow is an ideal choice. Bees love these flowers.
Their ability to readily self-seed can prove to be an annoyance for some gardeners as, once seedlings establish, they can be tricky to remove. Careful deadheading and cutting back will be required during the summer if you want to minimize the chance of their spread.
|Botanical Name||Malva alcea|
|Common Name||Hollyhock mallow, vervain mallow, greater-musk mallow|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous, perennial|
|Mature Size||Up to 4 ft. tall|
|Sun Exposure||Partial shade, full shade|
|Soil Type||Sandy, loamy, clay, well-drained, moist but well-drained|
|Soil pH||Acid, neutral, alkaline|
|Bloom Time||Late summer, fall|
|Hardiness Zones||4 - 8, USA|
|Native Area||Europe, Asia|
In the right conditions, hollyhock mallow is easy to grow and maintain, although it should be noted that it's a short-lived species.
With it's tall, upright form, it may require staking in exposed situations or if growing in rich soils. Selecting a sheltered position out of strong winds is recommended.
In temperate regions, it's best to position your hollyhock mallow in a full sun position. If you live somewhere that experiences intense afternoon sun, a partial shade location would likely be better to prevent leaf discoloration and promote better flowering.
Hollyhock mallow can tolerate a wide variety of well-drained soil types. It's preference, however, is for a moist, loamy or sandy soil that is reasonably fertile. If the soil is overly rich, it can result in the flower stems sagging.
This plant, once established, is moderately drought-tolerant. It does, however, prefer to be kept consistently moist and it won't survive in waterlogged soils.
Temperature and Humidity
Hollyhock mallow enjoys temperate climates and can handle light frosts during the winter. Excessively hot and dry conditions result in the foliage turning from green to a scorched yellow.
Your hollyhock mallow will appreciate a monthly application of a balanced fertilizer during its growth period.
Propagating Hollyhock Mallow
New hollyhock mallow plants can be easily grown from healthy basal cuttings taken in the spring or early summer.
While waiting for them to take root, keep them in a sheltered and warm spot, like a cold frame or a greenhouse, out of intense afternoon sun.
Pruning of your hollyhock mallow is recommended to prevent this readily self-seeding plant from taking over your garden. For this reason, as soon as the blooms are spent, they should be deadheaded. This can sometimes also encourage a second flush of blooms in the late summer.
Cutting the entire plant back down to the basal foliage is also an option after the bloom period in the late summer or fall. Be aware that some self-seeding might occur using this method.
If you want to keep your hollyhock mallow neat and compact, it's worth pinching back new growth tips.
How to Grow Hollyhock Mallow From Seed
Hollyhock mallows are easy to grow from seeds. Providing they're sown in a warm and sheltered location, like a cold frame, they germinate rapidly. Seedlings usually appear in under a fortnight.
They can also be sown directly into their garden position if your springs are mild enough.