Cape mallow, which resembles a delicate hibiscus, displays cup-shape pink blooms from early summer through frost in cool regions. Easy-to-grow, it thrives in the ground or adds season-long color in a container garden. Grow it as a woody shrub in Zones 9 through 11 and enjoy its flowers year-round. Cape mallow also makes a great landscape plant for dry climates since it’s notably drought-tolerant.
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Cape mallow stands out as a long-lasting pollinator buffet, thanks to the fact it boasts a late spring-until-frost flowering window in cool regions and a year-round bloom cycle in Zones 9 through 11. Pair this easy-to-grow annual (or shrub, depending on your growing zone) with other pollinator-friendly plants to create a colorful backyard oasis. Try these favorites: aster, bee balm, butterfly bush, butterfly weed, fennel, goldenrod, lantana, sunflower, and sweet alyssum. Or check with your local extension service to learn about suitable pollinator plants for your region.
If your goal is to create a backyard oasis for pollinators, you may want to limit or even eliminate the use of chemicals in your landscape. Pesticides, fungicides, and many nonorganic fertilizers harm pollinators. Look for effective, pollinator-safe alternatives.
Cape Mallow Care Must-Knows
Cape mallow grows well in full sun and well-drained soil. It will grow in part shade, but it does not bloom as prolifically when it receives less than 8 hours of bright sunlight daily. It is easy to grow in a pot or in the ground. Water it regularly for 6 to 8 weeks after planting to encourage it to develop a strong root system. Reduce watering after the root system is established. Water container-grown plants regularly, as they dry out much more quickly than in-ground plantings. Spread a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch over the soil surface to prevent soil-moisture loss.
Tree Form Care Must-Knows
Cape mallows are occasionally sold as tree-form plants trained to a long single stem or trunk. These impressive plants make a bold statement in the landscape and require thoughtful and frequent maintenance.
Keep a tree-form cape mallow standing by planting it away from strong wind and supporting it with a stake that has a diameter at least as large as that of the stem. Fasten the trunk to the stake at several points with garden twine or green plastic tie tape. Check the ties periodically and loosen them as needed to accommodate growth.
Maintain the rounded, bushy growth of tree-form cape mallow by selectively pruning. Snip away wayward stems and long growth to maintain the desired size and shape. Do not shear the plant, which often prevents the formation of flower buds.
More Varieties of Cape Mallow
This variety of Anisodontea 'Nuanilainp' is a drought-tolerant selection with pink flowers all summer. It grows best in cool-summer climates and reaches 3 feet tall and 18 inches wide. It can be grown as a perennial in Zones 9-11.
Anisodontea 'Elegant Lady' bears magenta-pink flowers all summer and fall and can grow to 5 feet tall.
Plant Cape Mallow With:
Dusty miller is a favorite because it looks good with everything. The silvery-white color is a great foil for any type of garden blossom and the fine-textured foliage creates a beautiful contrast against other plants' green foliage. Dusty miller has also earned its place in the garden because it's delightfully easy to grow, withstanding heat and drought like a champion.
Huge, showy blooms are the hallmark of the hibiscus family, whether the flying saucers on hardy perennial hibiscus, the Hawaiian charmers of the tropical hibiscus, or the frilly-flowered Rose of Sharon that grows into a large shrub or small tree. Not only do hibiscus blooms boast an amazing array of colors, vastly widened through hybridizing, they also draw hummingbirds en masse. The newer, dark-leaf introductions are wonderful architectural fillers in container gardens. Cold-winter gardeners can grow the more tender types of hibiscus in containers and wheel them into the house when winter approaches. Prune back heavily to encourage blooms, and watch for aphids and whitefly, which are attracted to all forms of hibiscus. Learn about the perennial varieties of hibiscus.
Nasturtiums are so versatile. They grow easily from seed sown directly in your garden's poorest soil and blooms all season until frost and are never greedy about food or fertilizer. Nasturtiums are available in either spreading or climbing types.Plant spreading types in large containers to spill over the sides. Plant them alongside wide paths to soften the sides for a romantic look. Use nasturtium to brighten a rock garden or between paving stones. Plant them at the edges of beds and borders to fill in between other plants and add soft, flowing color. Train climbing types up trellises or alongside fences. The leaves and flowers are edible; use them as a showy plate garnish or to jazz up salads.