Malva sylvestris var mauritiana or Common Mallow, is a perennial to sometimes biennial plant native to Europe and Western Asia. In colder areas, it is often treated as an annual. Dark green leaves are cordate-orbicular or reniform. Basal leaves have 5-7 shallow lobes. Plants will reach up to 3 feet (1 m) tall in the landscape, but are much smaller in containers. Since Roman times, the plant has been respected as a medicinal plant and a foodstuff. During those times, it was considered as a cure all for its gentle purgative action, which was thought to rid the body of diseases. The plants are very easy to cultivate and are hardy in the landscape in USDA zone 6-9.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, plants will bloom from mid spring to late summer. The 2 inch (5 cm) across flowers are borne in auxiliary clusters. They are very showy.
Culture: Malva sylvestris var mauritiana need full sun to light shade with a moist, well drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite. The plants are well watered and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. They are fertilized monthly with a balanced fertilizer. Although the plants are considered perennial and sometimes biennial, they will often bloom themselves to death the first year. In most cases, they will reseed themselves. During the winter months, the plants are stored in cold rooms where the nighttime temperatures will be about 48°F (9°C). Seed is also collected as the plants go dormant, just in case they don't come back.
Propagation: Malva sylvestris var mauritiana is propagated from seed. Seed will germinate in 7-14 days from sowing. It is best to sow the seed where the plants are to grow.
Malva sylvestris var mauritiana was featured as Plant of the Week November 30-December 6, 2007.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.