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A close relative of hollyhock, the mallow is an easy-to-grow, short-lived perennial that is easily started from seed. Tall stems of small blossoms are held high above softly lobed kidney-shape foliage that looks great mixed among larger shrubs and other perennials. Planted once, mallow will often reseed itself for a continuous display of blooms year after year. The flat, buttonlike seed pods resemble tiny wheels of cheese—leading to mallow’s lesser known name of cheese weed.
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garden plans for Mallow
Mallow's flowers come in shades of pink, white, purple, red, yellow, or orange, which look stunning when planted en masse in cottage gardens or borders. Individual flowers comprise five heart-shape petals, many of which will feature darker veins. The flowers appear from early summer until fall, as long as deadheading takes place to encourage continued blooming. Mallow's large medium-green leaves make a coarsely textured background for its flowers and other nearby plants. Some species are grown specifically for their flowers. Other species are prized for their leaves, which are used as vegetables when cooking or medical remedies.
Mallow Plant Care
Mallow is easy to grow and start from seed, as long as you choose a location that provides moist, well-drained, organically rich soil and full sun. The latter promotes vigorous growth and reduces the need for staking. Plant the seeds directly in the garden and keep the area evenly moist until plants emerge. Most species of this plant are short-lived perennials; others are annuals or biannuals—the latter of which will not bloom during the first season after planting. Stay alert, though, because mallow's enthusiasm for self-sowing can cause it to invade lawns, fields, roadways, even urban waste areas—especially in North America where it is not native.
Japanese beetles consider the foliage and flowers of this plant to be tasty treats. Mallow is prone to rust (small orange-to-brown blisters on the undersides of leaves), especially during the heat of summer. Although not harmful to the plant, rust is unsightly. Control rust by removing affected leaves early on and keeping foliage dry.