Malva dendromorpha variegata (previously Lavatera arborea variegata) | Tree Mallow ‘Variegated’
Mallows are one of the most notable and important plant families in the world. They make wonderful ornamental garden plants, and are also widely cultivated as herbs or for food. There are over 1000 species of mallows, and although most of them are tropical, many are suitable as perennial ornamentals in temperate gardens.
Variegated Tree Mallow, also known as Velvet Tree Mallow, is a rarely offered woody, semi-evergreen perennial from the Hibiscus family. It can be grown as annual where it may flower the first year, or in warmer climates, a perennial. The variegated form is an upright, small shrub-like plant with stout erect stems, handsomely clothed in variable yellow-gold/cream-white variegated leaves. The flowers are hollyhock-like, soft and delicate, purplish-pink/cerise in color, and bloom from late spring through autumn.
A bold and unique specimen for container-gardening or back of the border. 6+ feet tall, but can be kept smaller by pruning. Does well in most garden soils, even poor ones. Low water requirement. Full sun to part shade.
The genus name ‘Malva’ is Greek, and means soft or soothing, which refers to the mucilage. The recorded history of using mallow goes back through antiquity, so it has been around a very long time!
Seeds may be sown indoors, lightly covered with soil and planted out when ready. Germination is easy and rapid. It may help to note that plants do not reliably survive their first winter in the coldest zones, so it may be preferable to overwinter young plants indoors/under glass the first year.
Sun exposure: Full sun to part shade
Mature height: 5-6 ft
Mature width: 4-5 ft
Hardiness zones: 8-10