Wax mallow is a beautiful flowering shrub and a member of the Hibiscus family. The scientific name is Malvaviscus arboreus, but the plant is usually called by one of its many evocative common names, including Turk’s cap, wax mallow and Scotchman’s purse. If you want more wax mallow information, or want to learn how to grow a wax mallow plant, read on.
Wax mallow shrub grows in the wild in the Southeastern United States, Mexico, Central America and South America. It often stays around 4 feet (1.2 m.) tall, but can grow to 10 feet (3 m.) tall with an equal spread. You’ll find that wax mallow plant care won’t take much of your time.
The stems of the wax mallow are woody toward the plant’s base, but fuzzier and greener toward the branch tips. Leaves can be up to 5 inches (12.5 cm.) across, but the plant is generally grown for its gorgeous scarlet flowers, which resemble unopened Hibiscus blossoms.
If you are growing wax mallow and looking for blossoms, wax mallow information tells you that the flowers – each about 2 inches (5 cm.) long – appear in summer, attracting hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. They are followed by small, marble size red fruit, commonly eaten by wildlife. People can also eat the fruit, raw or cooked.
If you are wondering how to grow a wax mallow plant, you’ll find that it isn’t very difficult. The plant grows in the wild from the Texas Coastal Plain east to Florida, as well as flourishing in the West Indies, Mexico and Cuba.
Caring for wax mallow is easiest in these warm areas, where the shrubs are evergreen and flower all year long. In chillier climates, wax mallow grows as a perennial and usually stays about 4 feet (1.2 m.) tall and wide. Wax mallow plant care depends on your climate and the site where you plant the shrub.
Wax mallow plant care requires the least amount of work if you grow the shrub in moist, well-drained woodland soils. It is not particular about pH and will also grow in sandy, clay and limestone soils.
It prefers shady sites but can thrive in full sun. However, its leaves can be darker and puckered in direct sun.
You don’t need to start pruning wax mallow plants as part of caring for wax mallow plants. The plants do not require trimming for health or vitality. However, if you wish to keep the shrub at preferred height or shape, consider pruning wax mallow plants back after a couple years. You can cut it back to 5 inches (12.5 cm.) after the last frost.
Item #: 8007
Zones: 7b to 10b, guessing
Height: 48" tall
Culture: Sun to Part Sun
Pot Size: 3.5" pot (24 fl. oz/0.7 L) ?
Wax begonias are a popular plant with many gardeners because of their lush growth and their almost constant blooms all season long. Wax begonias are a hardy plant which prefers sun to shade. Gardeners in northern climates often grow wax begonias in pots so they can be taken indoors during the winter because wax begonias do not tolerate cold. If kept in a sunny window, wax begonias will bloom all winter. While it is possible to propagate wax begonias from seeds, plants grown from seeds can take six months or more to mature, so most people grow wax begonias from cuttings.
Take one or more 3- to 5-inch tip cutting from a healthy wax begonia using garden shears or a sharp knife. Make your cut just below a leaf node. Pull off all leaves on the lower 2 inches of your cutting.
Fill a growing tray or a pot with a drain hole with potting soil and place your cutting into the soil at least 2 inches deep. No rooting hormone is required, although rooting hormone may encourage faster root growth.
Keep the potting soil moist but do not over-water. Wax begonias like damp soil but too much water can cause the cutting to rot.
Place your cuttings in a sunny window where they can get several hours of direct sunlight each day. Within seven to 10 days your cuttings should show roots.
Replant your wax begonias into individual pots filled with potting mix after three weeks. Fertilize once each growing season with a commercial fertilizer designed for flowers.
Plant your wax begonias in a sunny location in well-drained soil mixed with potting mix.
Pinching the tips of your wax begonias will cause bushier plants with more flowers
Move your wax begonias indoors during the winter or take cuttings and start new plants indoors each winter.
Native plants. The term has different meanings for different gardeners. There are Texas natives, US natives and those plants that act like natives. All in all, what most of us want in our garden are low maintenance plants that are attractive and functional. Plants that are not invasive and are a benefit to wildlife. When you plant a garden, it is not just for you – it is a habitat for all living things around you. So with that in mind, here is our list of 10 native plants for Houston that do just that. Many are heat and drought tolerant – cheerfully returning year after year in your garden.
1 Eastern Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) – Drought tolerant native that is a butterfly magnet. Profuse blooms spring through summer. Elongated stems with soft lavender petals attached to an iridescent cone. It prefers full sun to partial shade in well draining fertile soils. 2-5 feet tall. Perfect for cut flowers, lasting about a week. NATIVE. Outstanding performer in the garden.
2 Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’) This perennial coneflower has cheerful golden yellow flowers with black centers that offer long-lasting continual blooms. A drought tolerant perennial with large blooms up to 5 inches across that make great cut flowers. A sure winner for a Houston garden. NATIVE.
3 Inland Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) – Native to the US. This is a shade loving perennial grass with oak-like flower spikelets and a clumping habit. Low maintenance and known for it’s large graceful seed heads and blue-green bamboo-like leaves. Soft brown color during most of winter, by February you can cut it down at the base and it will grow again in spring. Good for controlling soil erosion. NATIVE. 2-4 ft tall.
4 Southern Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera can also be referred to as Morella cerifera) This multi-trunked, evergreen shrub can reach 20 ft. in height. Light olive green foliage with a spicy fragrance. Female plants produce pale blue berries in the winter. There are separate male and female plants so if you want berries, you’ll need to have a male plant nearby. In colonial times, the fruit’s waxy covering was used to make fragrant candles. Makes an excellent screen plant for shielding areas from view. Prefers moist soil and full sun to part shade. Attractive gray bark. NATIVE.
5 Pride of Houston Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) Nice upright single or multi-trunk small tree. Small dark green leaves with a pale gray bark with white blotches. Female plants have attractive red berries in winter that are good for wildlife. They also make lovely holiday displays. You’ll need to have a male plant nearby for the female to produce berries. Drought tolerant. Takes full sun to shade, but produces fruit best in sun. Pride of Houston is an improved variety of the NATIVE YAUPON. 12-25 ft tall.
6 Texas Lantana (Lantana horrida also referred to as Lantana urticoides) – A native to Texas, this variety of Lantana has yellow to orange flowers that is attractive to butterflies. Very drought tolerant as well as salt tolerant. Deer resistant. Hardy in our zone 9 (may need some protection in severe winters) Prefers well draining soil. Full to part sun. Spreading shrub 3-6 ft. Blooms all summer long. NATIVE.
7 Red Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. Drummondii) – A native shrub of Texas and Mexico, it is also known as Drummond wax-mallow. This spreading 2-3 ft tall shrub prefers shade to part shade. Bright red hibiscus like flowers with overlapping petals that never fully opens to form a column for the stamen to protrude. Flower resembles a Turkish turban hence the name Turk’s cap. Very useful for shady spots.
8 Texas Olive (Cordia boissieri) Wonderful fast growing native tree with ever-blooming large white flowers. You can see these in person at Buchanan’s. There are two large ones planted on the west side of the parking lot. They are blooming now. Drought tolerant once established. Produces purple fruit edible for wildlife. Grows about 15 ft tall and has about the same size spread. NATIVE.
9 Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) This traditional cottage garden plant flowers constantly from late spring until hard frost. Drought tolerant tough perennial that prefers full to part sun. Grows about 3 ft tall and as wide. Red flowers with a pale green small leaves. A good food source for hummingbirds!
10 Gulf Coast Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) Tough native perennial grass with a large, airy seed head that grows about half as tall as the entire plant. The spikelets are purple and in fall the plant takes on a feathery, deep pink hue. Perfect for mixed perennial beds, specimen plant or in a meadow. When planted en masse – it adds graceful soft movement in the garden. NATIVE. Full to part sun. Clumping habit 2-3 ft. tall.
Many gardeners neglect planting grasses in their beds in an effort to focus only on flowering plants. Most of the gardens I’ve seen that are truly breath-taking incorporate grasses into the design. They’re a place for your eye to rest in the landscape and help your flowering perennials stand out.
This list is some of our favorite native plants, and there’s lots more that are suitable for Houston area gardens. Want to learn more about native plants? Come to Buchanan’s.
If you want a low maintenance, beautiful garden – start with natives. It’s not too late to plant. Visit Buchanan’s Native Plants today and our native plant experts will help you pick out the right plants for your garden.
Here are a few helpful links about native plants for Texas:
Jackie D'Elia loves gardening and photography. Her day job is building amazing things in WordPress at Jackie D'Elia Design. She earned a BS in Horticulture from Texas A&M. Follow her on Twitter @jdelia.
I have beautiful Malva & Zebrina flowers blooming, but they get this horrible disease every year which causes bumps on the leaves, then the leaves turn yellow and die. How can I control this?
It does sound like a fungal infection. This has an easy cure, since it can fight off the infection for the start of its growing season.
You will need a handful of DOLOMITIC LIME and a tablespoon of WETTABLE SULFUR per plant.
These together, will correct the fungal issue. It is not a bad idea to keep these ingredients around to apply once per year to the soil as a preventative.
All the plants in the Mallow family are prone to "rust" with hollyhocks being the most popular ornamental that is affected. The bumps are orange which is where the "rust" name comes from. Here is another article that discusses what to do if your mallow family plant has rust. https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/hollyhock-rust/ Rust survives winter so it is vital to carefully remove all plant material at the end of the season. Good sanitation includes removing affected leaves as soon as they are noticed. Good air circulation is important in preventing all fungal diseases which is hard to achieve when plants are against a structure. You may want to space them out further but this is no sure fix as hollyhocks and the like are rust magnets, unfortunately.
Perennial, Annual, Lavatera trimestris
Mallow is a fun and easy to grow member of the Hibiscus plant family. It calls many places "Home", being native to North America, Asia, and Australia.
Mallow plants are really perennials. But, they are usually grown as annuals.
The flower blooms resemble hollyhocks, and are 2 inches across, in pink or white colors. The leaves are heart-shaped. Large leaves at the bottom of the plant, gradually give way to smaller leaves, higher up the stem.
Mallow flowers attract butterflies.
Try growing Mallow in flower beds, borders, or containers on your patio or deck.
Mallow looks good in cut flower arrangements.
Other Names Malva, Striped Mallow
Plant Height: 1' - 4', depending upon variety
Mallow plants are grown from seeds. Sow seeds directly into your flower garden after all danger of frost has past.
While you can start seeds, indoors, they do not like to be transplanted. If you choose an indoor start, we recommend using peat pots. Transplant before roots begin to emerge through the pot.
Mallow can also be propagated by rooting cuttings. Use tender, young stems.
Ideal Germination temperature: 70 degrees
Days to Germination: 5 - 10
How to Grow Mallow Plants:
Grow Mallow plants in full sun. They will tolerate partial shade.
Mallow plants like good to average soils, that are well drained. Add a generous amount of compost into the planting site.
The plants are drought tolerant, but grow best with a constant supply of water.
Water regularly during droughts.
Apply a general purpose fertilizer monthly.
Established Mallow plants are low maintenance. For a bushier growth, pinch back growing tips after the plant reaches 12".
Add mulch around the plants for appearance, and to keep weeds down.
Flowers Bloom: Summer and Fall
Insect and disease problems are infrequent.