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Lavatera

Tree Mallow
Malvaceae
Annuals, Deciduous, Evergreen, Shrubs

These easy-to-grow plants bear blossoms resembling single hollyhocks (Alcea).

Lavatera assurgentiflora

Evergreen shrub. Native to Southern California’s Channel Islands but naturalized on the coastal mainland. Erect growth to 12 ft. tall and wide. Maplelike leaves are lobed and toothed. Rosy lavender, white-striped, 2–3-in.-wide flowers bloom almost throughout the year, heaviest from midspring to late summer. Resists wind and salt spray. Use as a fast-growing windbreak hedge. Will reach 5–10 ft. and bloom the first year from seed. Shear to keep dense. Little to moderate water.

Lavatera maritima

Evergreen shrub. Native to the western Mediterranean. Grows quickly to 6–8 ft. tall and about as wide, with gray-green, 2 1/2-in. maple-like leaves and a summer-long show of light pink, 2–3-in. flowers with dark rose veining and a deep purple center. Open grower; cut back hard to keep it compact. Needs partial to full shade in Zones 12 and 13.

Lavatera thuringiaca
Lavatera thuringiaca

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Lavatera thuringiaca

Native to central and southeastern Europe. Resembles L. maritima but has denser growth and greener leaves. Flowers are purplish pink, 3 in. across, and nearly everblooming (except in colder-winter zones). This evergreen shrub grows to 4–6 ft. high and wide and is deciduous in the colder part of its range.

Lavatera trimestris

Mediterranean native reaches 3–6 ft. tall and wide from spring-sown seed. Satiny flowers up to 4 in. across. The species is seldom seen in gardens; more commonly grown are named varieties with blossoms in white, pink, and rosy carmine. Bloom extends from midsummer to frost if spent flowers are removed to halt seed production. Thin seedlings to allow each plant ample room to spread. Makes a colorful, fast-growing summer hedge or background planting. In mild-winter regions, can also be sown in autumn for winter-to-spring bloom.

Compact (2–3 ft.) varieties include ‘Mont Blanc’, white; and ‘Silver Cup’, bright pink. ‘Loveliness’ has 3 1⁄2-in. flowers of deep rose veined in a deeper shade, grows up to 3–4 ft. tall and wide. Twins (‘Cool White’ and ‘Hot Pink’) grow to 16–20 in. high.

 

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