Desert Mallows for Endlessly in Bloom
Desert Mallows for Endlessly in Bloom – Bob Sussman-2/6
Desert mallows are medium sized shrubs that will flower all year long. Native to our California deserts and deserts through out the west they are covered with clusters of flowers – each flower is about ½” in diameter. These should be planted in areas of full-on sun and once established, watered 1x to 2x per month. There are several species of desert mallows or Sphaeralcea and the flowers are typically orange but not always. The flowers can range from shades of orange, pink, and red. Occasionally you’ll find a purple/maroon too.
Now How to?
How do I plant it? Where do I plant it? How do take care of it? …..and on and on. Easy stuff. You can buy them in either 1-gallon or 5-gallon pots. If you buy seedlings the. In 1-gallon pots they may not be in flower but the larger 5-gallon pots generally have their flowers so you know the color you’ll be getting. Generally too you’ll need to cut the 1-gallon plants a few times to get them to grow to a more compact form- sort or shape them. The 5-gallon plants we cut back a few times to give them a fuller appearance. Not an unimportant consideration.
Planting and care are easy. Plant your new desert mallow the way you’d plant the rest of your natives with care not to break the root ball when taking the plant out of the plastic nursery container. And, like all newly planted natives they should be watered down to the roots 1x /week for the first 4 months or so to get established. After that, you’ll get “best” results by watering 2x month. What else? Plant them in full sun. Now what else? As far as planting is concerned, nothing more is needed. You don’t need any special soil or fertilizer.
Once they have finished flowering, if you cut them back a few inches below the spend flowers they will start to send out new leaves which are followed by new buds and flower again. If you repeat this process (about 2 to 3x per year) of cutting them back they’ll flower all year.
These are excellent bee plants- always in flower so if you are trying to grow both fruits and or vegetables in garden these would be excellent plants to help you to produce a bigger crop.
We sell a fair amount of these mallows to some of our organic farm growers and grape growers too for this very purpose. If you plant these out in your garden you’re also likely to bring butterflies to you garden as well. The Sphaeralcea (desert mallow) are food plants for several types of butterfly caterpillars like the painted lady and west coast lady.
So these are easy to grow, flowers all year, food for the bees, and brings in lots of cool butterflies to your garden – give them a try, I think they’ll add a lot to your garden!