Lavatera adds a romantic note to the garden with its flowers that resemble hibiscus or mini hollyhock blossoms. Lavatera sports an abundance of flowers in jewel-tone shades. This easy-growing plant works well in large containers or the back of a border.
Although it does not have the diverse mix of colors you find in hollyhocks, lavatera offers flowers in pinks, purples, and whites. Many of these colors also have beautiful striations of deeper tones, and some boast dark eyes in the center of the flowers. Lavatera begins its season in mid-summer and continues to bloom until frost. No matter where you plant it in the garden, lavatera takes center-stage when its stems are laden with blossoms. This plant is also a good option for a quick space filler, because of all the lush, bushy growth it puts on in one growing season.
Lavatera Care Must-Knows
Like its close cousin the hollyhock, lavatera is easy to grow. However, it does not like hot, humid summer weather. It prefers well-drained soil with even moisture. If it is kept too wet, it is likely to rot; too dry and the plant will also suffer.
If you are planning on growing lavatera from seed, it is important to know that this plant has an extensive root system that does not like to be disturbed. It is best to sow lavatera seed directly in the ground where you want it to grow. If you want to get an early start on flowers, you can sow seeds in advance indoors. Make sure to use a biodegradable pot, like a peat pot, so you won't disturb the sensitive roots.
Lavatera should be planted in full sun for the most prolific flowers and strongest plants. Because it is such a fast grower, lavatera is prone to flopping if grown in too much shade. You can also remedy this by pruning it on occasion to help encourage good branching and to keep it on the shorter side. While full sun is ideal for flower production, part shade may be beneficial in warmer climates to help keep the plant cooler during warm summers.
More Varieties of Lavatera
'Mont Blanc' lavatera
This variety of Lavatera bears pure-white flowers on a compact 2-foot-tall plant.
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
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
This Lavatera selection has big pink flowers with darker veins on a compact 3-foot-tall plant.
Lavatera Companion Plants
It's amazing that the tall, dramatic spider flower is only an annual. Once temperatures warm up, it zooms to 4 feet or more plants very quickly and produces large balls of flowers with fascinating long seedpods that whirl out from it. Cut it for vases, but be aware that the flowers shatter easily after a few days. It typically self-seeds prolifically, so you only have to plant it once. Because it develops surprisingly large thorns, it's best to keep spider flower away from walkways. 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 6 or more for best effect.
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 different 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 tubers to store over winter. For a fast start with dahlia plants before it's safe to plant outdoors, pot the tubers up, water sparingly and grow in a sunny location until sprouts appear, and then transplant outdoors after the last frost.
Moonflower is one of the most romantic plants you can grow in the garden. It's a statuesque, ideal evening-garden plant bearing large trumpet-shape flowers that unfurl in the evening (or on overcast days) and stay open until the sun rises. Some are sweetly fragrant when open. This beautiful plant is also very heat- and drought-resistant. Beware: It's quite poisonous, especially the seeds. Moonflower can be found as an established plant in garden centers. 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. Datura reseeds freely to the point of being invasive in some conditions.