Common names: Marshmallow hibiscus; Crimson-eyed rose mallow; Swamp rose mallow
Botanical names: Hibiscus moscheutos
This strikingly showy plant is found in wet areas such as swamps or marshes in the eastern United States and grows well in the South including Texas and Florida. They are spectacular when grouped and can be used in place of other shrubs. Not good for borders because of their spreading nature. Good nectar source.
Size: 3 to 8 feet tall and equally wide spread
Flowers: white, pink, red, fuchsia with a maroon center; blooms 6 to 10 inches
Bloom time: summer to first frost
Leaves: large grayish green heart shaped leaves; some with hairy white undersides
Pests and Disease Problems: Unlike the hybrid Texas Superstars®, ordinary rose mallow is moderately susceptible to the following pests: aphids, Japanese Beetles, Spider mites, white flies, stalk borers, caterpillars. Diseases that can affect rose mallow include crown rot, root rot, leaf spot, rust, canker and blight according to the Dayton Nursery. Most disease problems can be avoided if planted with good air circulation.
Growing in North Texas
Mallows can adapt to many soils, but they prefer a moist soil. They are not drought tolerant. They will do equally well in sun or partial shade. The plants die down to the ground during winter, but return with sprouts in late spring. They grow very rapidly and do not require much care. A light mulching of the plants in winter is good. Sow seed ¼ inches deep in early spring and kept moist will produce a plant, which will bloom the first year. If you want an identical plant, you can divide the clump in late winter and plant 3 feet apart with crowns 3 to 4 inches beneath the soil.
Note: A different species of Marsh Mallow, Althaea officinalis, is a much smaller plant. It was introduced from Europe and has become naturalized in salt marshes along the coast from Massachusetts to New Jersey and locally westward to Michigan and Arkansas. In Europe it is raised for its thick roots, from which is obtained mucilage used in making the white marshmallow candy sold at every confectionery store. Do not try to make marshmallow candy using Hibiscus moscheutos
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; The University of Texas at Austin
”Pocket Guide to Herbs”; Jenny Linford; Paragon Books, Ltd.; 2007; pp 51
Keywords (tags): tropical; accent; specimen; large bloom; bog; rain garden; nectar