Hardy Mallows for the temperate garden including Abutilon, Hibiscus and Callirhoe.
One of the most important plant familes in the world are the mallows. Not only are mallows wonderful ornamental garden plants, but they are widely cultivated for food (okra, marshmallows, chocolate), drink (tea, cola) and for fiber (cotton, kenaf, jute). Although most mallows are tropical, it is a large family (over 1000 species) so there are still many mallows that are perennial in temperate gardens. Don't let your garden go fallow. Plant a mallow!
Read More About Mallows
What makes a mallow, a mallow? Mallows include all members of the plant family Malvaceae which are distinguished from other plants by having a unique floral anatomy. Mallow stamens (the male sex parts) are fused together into a tube that surrounds the pistil (female sex part) and the whole structure looks like a funny bottle brush. In addition, mallows produce lots of gooey mucilage in the leaves, stems, roots and immature (callow mallow) seed pods…which is what okra is. This syrupy, gelatinous goo is valuable in cooking as it thickens soups and sauces, and can be whipped to make marshmallows.
Mallow flowers range in size from small (shallow mallow) 3/4" wide Malvaviscus blooms up to the gigantic, dinner-plate sized flowers of hardy Hibiscus (a mallow to hallow). Mallow flowers are typically red, pink, mauve or purple but occasionally can be found in white (a more mellow mallow) and pale shades of yellow (a sallow mallow), or sometimes blue.
There are many ornamental mallows (say that five times, fast) that look great in the temperate garden. Here in our Raleigh, NC garden we grow perennial Abutilon, Alcea, Callirhoe, Gossypium, Hibiscus, Iliamna, Kosteletzkya, Malva, Lavatera, Malvaviscus, Napaea, and Pavonia. When you are ready to buy mallows for your garden, check out our online list of mallows for sale below.
Since 1988, Plant Delights Nursery has been the choice of serious gardeners and plant collectors looking for the best and rarest perennial plants. We are pleased to have received the Perennial Plant Association Retail Award in 2011, the American Horticulture Society Commercial Award in 2002, and to have been selected as one of the Best Mail Order Plant Nurseries - Garden Design Magazine 2010. Welcome to our family of plant lovers!
In our winter hardiness trials, Abutilon 'Bartley Schwarz' (named after the late California plantsman, although incorrectly spelled "Schwartz") has been one of our best performers. The slightly pendent branching habit of this Abutilon megapotamicum hybrid makes a 4' tall x 4' wide clump clothed with small, fuzzy green serrated leaves and adorned from early summer through fall with 1.5" wide, salmon-orange (RHS 24B) bell-shaped flowers that dangle from the outstretched woody branches. As a houseplant, this mallow relative is everblooming (should be the same in an apartment)...just watch out for hummingbird droppings. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Abutilon 'Canary Bird' is a marvelous hummingbird plant that has survived 6 degrees F in our garden. This hibiscus relative has maple-like foliage on a compact 6' tall x 3' wide plant. For us, Abutilon 'Canary Bird' starts flowering in early summer with large, dangling, 3" wide, canary yellow, bell-like flowers and continues until the first frost. For those in more northerly zones, Abutilon 'Canary Bird' makes a great centerpiece for a container planting. Good winter drainage is key for maximum cold tolerance in the ground. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Abutilon 'Fool's Gold' is an upright abutilon, clothed with 2" wide, fuzzy green leaves and adorned from early summer until fall with 2.5" wide, hanging, orange (RHS 24B) lantern-like flowers, each highlighted with dark orange veins...a hummingbird delight. This 4' tall x 2.5' wide flowering maple has proven to be reliable in our climate since 2004, but is also a great summer container specimen plant. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Abutilon megapotamicum is a fun and easy-to-grow Brazilian native that makes a great hummingbird magnet for the perennial border, spreading to several feet wide in a single season. If you're into container gardening, a flowering maple also makes a great hanging basket plant. In the wild, Abutilon megapotamicum reaches 8' tall, but in temperate climate cultivation, it rarely exceeds 5' tall. From late summer until frost, the plants are laden with very cool 2" hanging red lanterns, carefully placed between the thumb-sized green leaves. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This vigorous hummingbird favorite makes a 5' tall x 5' wide upright mass of woody stems adorned with fuzzy, dark green leaves. During the summer, the outermost branches are laden with dangling parchment-yellow flowers, each highlighted by a dark red calyx. This has been a superb performer in our winter hardiness trials. Although we list this as a selection of Abutilon megapotamicum, its vigor and leaf shape suggest its baby-daddy is instead a close relative. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
I longed for an abutilon with pastel flowers and plantsman Luen Miller of Monterrey Bay Nursery came to the rescue with this fabulous selection of Abutilon megapotamicum. The 3' tall x 4' wide clump of Abutilon 'Pink Charm' is adorned from early summer until fall with small pink dangling bells that line the stem...simply charming for both the gardener as well as nearby hummingbirds. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Thanks to Luen Miller of Monterrey Bay Nursery for sharing his splendid 2005 introduction...a hybrid of Abutilon megapotamicum. The 3-4' tall mass of stems is adorned with pointed green leaves and, from early June until fall, with hundreds of dangling bell-shaped flowers. The flowers are clear orange, highlighted by red bloodshot eye-like veins. Each flower is held tight by a dark burgundy calyx (the thing the flower sits in). Abutilon 'Orange Hot Lava' has been a standout in both our summer flowering and winter hardiness trials. Nine out of 10 hummingbirds agree, Abutilon 'Orange Hot Lava' is a top choice! Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This Jon Dixon hybrid has been an amazing performer in our garden trials. Not only did Abutilon 'Voodoo' continue flowering into the upper 20s, but it kept green stems and leaves down to 20 degrees F. Abutilon 'Voodoo' makes an upright 6' tall x 3' wide clump, adorned, starting in late summer and continuing into late fall, with large 2", blood red, bell-shaped flowers dangling from the top half of the plant. This hummingbird favorite is one of the best performers of the large-flowered, upright flowering maples we have ever grown. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This superb but rarely encountered hollyhock from Russia has been one of the best performers in our display garden. From an evergreen basal rosette of corrugated grey-green leaves, tall sturdy 6-7' spikes arise, beginning in spring. The spikes are clothed along the bottom half with typical hollyhock foliage, while the top half is adorned all summer with large, 4", single buttery-yellow, classic mallow flowers, attractive to hummingbirds. For us, Alcea rugosa has proven to be a reliable and disease-resistant perennial compared to other hollyhock species. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Callirhoe involucrata is a vertically challenged hibiscus relative from the Midwest and Southwest US that is truly a distinctive addition to the garden. Callirhoe involucrata begins in the spring with the 2" round cutleaf foliage emerging from a basal clump. The stems spread out horizontally to 3' then, starting in late spring, are smothered with 1-2" wide flowers resembling cups of red wine...in size, color, and shape. Wine cups are great for the front of the border or cascading down a wall. If you are going to fall off the horticultural wagon, you might as well do it with a wine cup in your hand! Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
If regular wine cups don't fit into your color scheme (they do clash with old blue Chevys and flue-pipe planters), then here is the plant for you. With a groundcover growth habit to 3' wide, Callirhoe involucrata var. tenuissima is a cutleaf variety of wine cups from 7,000' elevation in Los Lirios, Coahuila State, Mexico (Yucca Do collection # 51-8)...just what the color-echo doctor ordered. At the end of the spreading branches are masses of 2-3" wide light lavender-purple flowers that last until midsummer...much longer than those of typical Callirhoe involucrata. When flowering is finished, the wine cups shrink back to the original rosette and wait for weather to cool. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This is just one of the coolest plants that I've ever collected! Gossypium thurberi is an Arizona native perennial cotton plant...yes, one of the parents of the plants that give us those comfortable clothes. We found Gossypium thurberi growing with cactus and agaves just north of Tucson, Arizona. In the garden, it makes a 4' tall stalk, clothed with mallow-like leaves. In late summer and early fall, the stalks are topped with hundreds of small white flowers that change to pink on their second day open, followed by really small purple cotton bolls...don't get any ideas of making your own clothes. As fall approaches, the foliage turns a nice shade of red before dropping. The key to survivability in cold climates is to keep the soil very dry in the winter months. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This wonderful native from NC, south and west to Texas, is one of the lesser-known of our native mallows. Hibiscus aculeatus is found in upland bogs, roadside ditches, and coastal pinelands within the Southeast. Although Hibiscus aculeatus likes moist feet, we have had very good luck growing it in raised sandy berms with regular watering. The fuzzy 4' stems are clothed with lobed, okra-like leaves. From the leaf axils, plenty of 4-5" open, cone-shaped, light yellow flowers highlighted with a dark purple eye are produced from early summer until fall...attractive to hummingbirds. Virtually everything about Hibiscus aculeatus is fuzzy...do not approach without a razor in hand. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Available 6-6-2013 This versatile native mallow is equally at home in a swamp, submerged in a garden pool, or in a perennial border. The palmate-leaved (looks like a Japanese maple) Hibiscus coccineus has 6" brilliant red flowers on nice upright plants to 8' tall...a great see-through perennial. For us, Hibiscus coccineus flowers from June through October...attractive to hummingbirds. In the winter, we leave the stalks and enjoy the ornamental seed pods...great for arranging, both in the garden and in a vase! Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This Frank Galloway discovery from Baldwin Co., Alabama, is one of several white-flowered forms of our typically red-flowered southeast native Hibiscus coccineus that has been recently discovered. The 8' tall green stems emerge in spring, clothed with green marijuana-like foliage. The stalks of Hibiscus 'Swamp Angel' are adorned with five-petaled, pure white flowers from summer through fall...a hummingbird favorite. Moist soils are best, but Hibiscus coccineus can make it through an amazing amount of drought as well. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Hibiscus 'Copper Queen' is one of the newest introductions from Fleming's Flower Fields. This improved version of Hibiscus 'Kopper King' has much darker foliage which, for us, holds its reddish color all summer. The compact 4' tall Hibiscus 'Copper Queen' clump is topped all summer with huge 11" wide flowers that open light pink then change to white, highlighted by an incredible raspberry eye whose veining stretches to the edge of the petals. I can't say enough good things about this new introduction! Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This superb hibiscus hybrid from Walters Gardens is one of the most stunning selections we have grown. The brilliant red, almost scarlet flowers are unlike other hardy hibiscus whose red flowers are usually based in the blue spectrum. The 4' tall stalks are topped from midsummer through early fall with 7" wide, heavily-textured flowers with nicely overlapping petals...a hummingbird hub. Moist soils are best, but this hardy hibiscus is also fairly drought-tolerant for short durations. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This 1999 hybrid from the late Fleming brothers, is a more compact version of the popular Hibiscus 'Kopper King'. Hibiscus 'Crown Jewels' boasts the same purple leaves on a compact plant to only 48" tall x 30" wide. Throughout the summer, the plants are adorned with 6", perfectly round flowers of white with a vivid dark red eye...a hummingbird favorite. This is a perfect plant for some really cool color combinations in the perennial border! As with most hibiscus, moist soils and plenty of sun give the best results. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This 1999 American idol (not to be confused with the singing one) comes from the late Fleming brothers of Nebraska. Hibiscus 'Fantasia' is a heavy-blooming hybrid that boasts large, flat, rosy-pink flowers to 9" in width. Each flower is highlighted by a darker, rosy-red center pattern...attractive to hummingbirds. The green-foliaged, compact, 3' tall plants are adorned with flowers from midsummer until early fall. If you like your flowers "a little on the tacky side," you need this new mallow! Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Hibiscus 'Fireball' is a dazzling 2001 introduction from the late Fleming brothers that makes a compact 4' tall plant with fine-textured green foliage...often with a purple blush. From midsummer through early fall, the clumps are topped with brilliant, large burgundy-red flowers...a true showstopper and hummingbird favorite. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)