How to Plant and Grow Lavatera

Plant this bushy annual in full sun for the best flower show.

Lavatera (Lavatera spp.) adds a romantic note to the garden with flowers that resemble hibiscus or mini hollyhock blossoms. Lavatera sports an abundance of flowers in jewel-tone shades. Although it doesn't have the diverse mix of colors you find in hollyhocks, lavatera offers flowers in pinks, purples, and whites. Many of the blooms also have lovely striations of deeper tones, and some boast dark eyes in the center of the flowers.

Lavatera begins its flowering season in midsummer and continues blooming until frost. No matter where you plant it in the garden, lavatera takes center stage when its stems are laden with blossoms.

Lavatera Overview

Genus Name Lavatera
Common Name Lavatera
Plant Type Annual, Perennial
Light Sun
Height 3 to 10 feet
Width 2 to 12 feet
Flower Color Pink, Purple, White
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Attracts Birds, Cut Flowers, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings

Where to Plant Lavatera

Sow lavatera in rich, well-draining soil in full sun. The plant is an annual that can be grown as a perennial in USDA zones 7–10. Choose a sheltered spot to protect the plant from wind. This easy-growing plant works well in large containers or at the back of a border, and it is a good option for a quick space filler because of the lush, bushy growth it puts on in one growing season.

How and When to Plant Lavatera

Sow lavatera seeds in early spring. Press the seeds into the soil of a prepared bed of well-draining soil (or amend existing soil with compost first), and barely cover them. This plant has an extensive root system that doesn't like to be disturbed, so it's best to sow lavatera seed directly in the ground where you want it to grow. After seedlings appear, thin them to about a foot apart.

If you want to get an early start on flowers, you can sow seeds in indoors. Use a biodegradable pot, like a peat pot, so you won't disturb the sensitive roots. Keep it in a warm 70°F area until germination in about three weeks.

Lavatera Care Tips

Like its close cousin, the hollyhock, lavatera is easy to grow when you meet its basic requirements.


Lavatera should be planted in full sun for the most prolific flowers and most robust plants. Because it's such a fast grower, lavatera is prone to flopping when grown in the shade.

While full sun is ideal for flower production, part shade may be beneficial in warmer climates to help keep the plant cool during warm summers.

Soil and Water

Lavatera prefers well-drained soil with even moisture. If the soil is kept wet, the plant is likely to rot. After the plant is established, it is drought resistant, but it is best not to let the soil dry out completely.

Temperature and Humidity

Lavatera doesn't like hot, humid summer weather. It requires warm, dry weather to flourish.


Before planting, mix a slow-release granular fertilizer into the soil. In midsummer apply a liquid flower fertilizer, following the product instructions. Don't overfertilize, or you'll end up with lots of foliage and few flowers.


The best time to prune perennial lavatera is spring. Cut it back by a third or half after the last frost of spring to encourage new growth. The plant flowers on the current year's growth. Cut back damaged branches any time of year.

Potting and Repotting Lavatera

Lavatera is a good choice for growing outside in containers. Choose a pot with excellent drainage and fill it with potting mix or a soil/compost mix. The container size depends on the plant variety. The pot should be big enough but not too big for the plant (or plants). Large containers lead to waterlogged soil, which is a problem for lavatera. Avoid repotting unless necessary. Lavatera doesn't like to have its roots disturbed.

Pests and Problems

Lavatera is mostly free of pests but can occasionally fall prey to aphids, whiteflies or spider mites, all of which can be removed with a spray of water or an application of insecticidal soap or neem oil.

The biggest concern is a fungus named "mallow disease," in which the plant has yellowing and drooping leaves and black spots on the stems. Good hygiene in the garden can prevent it, but there is no cure once a plant contracts it. Remove any affected plants and don't compost them.

How to Propagate Lavatera

Annual lavatera is easily grown from seeds sown directly in the garden or in pots. It self-seeds prolifically, so gardeners usually don't have to plant them again the second year.

Owners of an established perennial plant can take softwood cuttings from the plant in the spring or early summer. The timing is critical because the new plant needs time to develop roots. Harvest 6- to 8-inch cuttings, making the cut beneath a leaf node of a non-flowering stem. Remove the leaves from the bottom third of the cutting and dip the end in rooting powder. Fill a biodegradable pot with a soil/compost mix or potting soil and keep it moist. Insert up to three cuttings per pot, spacing them around the edges, not grouped in the middle. Cover the pot with a plastic bag and put it in a warm location but not in direct sunlight. Remove the bag for a few minutes every week until you see new growth. Then remove the bag entirely.

Types of Lavatera

'Mont Rose' Lavatera

'Mont Rose' lavatera
Peter Krumhardt

Lavatera 'Mont Rose' bears soft-pink flowers on a compact 3-foot-tall plant.

'Mont Blanc' Lavatera

'Mont Blanc' lavatera
Laurie Dickson

This variety of Lavatera bears pure white flowers on a compact 2-foot-tall plant.

Malva Rose

Lavatera assurgentiflora Malva rose
Denny Schrock

Lavatera assurgentiflora, an evergreen shrub in coastal climates, has red-and-white-striped flowers that are 2-3 inches across. The plant tolerates salt spray and coastal challenges with ease. It grows 6-10 feet tall.

Tree Mallow

Lavatera bicolor Tree mallow
Denny Schrock

Lavatera maritima is a fast-growing shrub that reaches 8 feet tall and 12 feet wide in short order. Its pink-to-white flowers are up to 3 inches across. Zones 6-8

'Silver Cup' Lavatera

'Silver Cup' lavatera
Eric Roth

This Lavatera selection has big pink flowers with darker veins on a compact 3-foot-tall plant.

'Pink Blush' Lavatera

'Pink Blush' lavatera
Matthew Benson

Lavatera trimestris 'Pink Blush' has spectacular large blooms of bright blush pink that cover the 3-foot-tall plants from summer until fall.

Lavatera Companion Plants

Spider Flower

Cleome Spider Flower
Matthew Benson

Amazingly, the tall, dramatic spider flower is only an annual. Once temperatures warm up, it zooms to 4 feet or more quickly and produces large balls of flowers with fascinating long seedpods that whirl out from it. Be aware that the flowers shatter easily after a few days when cut for vases.

Spider flower typically self-seeds prolifically, so you only have to plant it once. Plant established seedlings in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Cleome does best in moderately rich, well-drained soil. Be careful about fertilizing, or you'll have extremely tall floppy plants. Group in clusters of six or more for best effect.

Because it develops surprisingly large thorns, it's best to keep spider flower away from walkways.


2 Dark Red Dahlias
Jim Krantz

Nothing beats a dahlia for summer color. Growing these varied, spiky flowers is like having a box of garden crayons at your disposal. The flowers form on branching, fleshy stems or open in solitary splendor on the bedding-plant types in mid to late summer. Several flower categories, from the petite mignonettes to the gigantic dinner-plate dahlias, offer possibilities for any space.

Expert dahlia growers recommend pinching off the first crop of side flower buds to encourage vigorous plant branching and larger flowers in peak season. All dahlias are fodder for brilliant seasonal cut bouquets and are always one of the most popular cut flowers at local farmer's markets. Their blooming season extends into fall and is only halted by the first frost. Gardeners in climates colder than Zone 8 should cut back the withered foliage after the first frost and dig up the tubers to store over winter.

To get a fast start for dahlia plants before it's safe to plant outdoors, pot the tubers, water sparingly, and grow in a sunny location until sprouts appear. Then transplant outdoors after the last frost.


White Moonflower Datura
Mike Jensen

Moonflower (Datura) is one of the most romantic plants you can grow in your garden. It's a statuesque, ideal evening garden plant bearing large trumpet-shaped flowers that unfurl when the sun goes down (or on overcast days) and stay open until it rises. Some are sweetly fragrant when open. This beautiful plant is also heat- and drought-resistant.

Plant outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. Give it moderate moisture and fertilizer. You can also train it into a treelike plant along a stake, especially in a large container. Unfortunately, Datura reseeds freely to the point of being invasive in some conditions.

Beware: Moonflower (Datura) is toxic, especially the seeds.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do lavatera plants require deadheading?

    Deadheading isn't essential, but gardeners who deadhead lavatera blooms before the seeds form extend the blooming season.

  • What types of pollinators are attracted to lavatera plants?

    The big, colorful blooms attract bees and hummingbirds to the garden. To a lesser degree, they also attract butterflies and moths.

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  1. Datura. University of Wisconsin Horticulture Extension

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