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Sphaeralcea

Globe Mallow
Malvaceae
Perennials, Flowers

Grown for their attractive downy leaves and bright flowers shaped like miniature hollyhocks (Alcea rosea), these upright to trailing plants have a persistent woody base with softer stems above. Colorful accent plants for hot, dry locations.

Need well-drained soil. Any more than a little water causes weedy growth and rust. Cut old stems almost to the ground before spring growth begins.

Sphaeralcea ambigua (photo courtesy of Steven A. Gunther)
Sphaeralcea ambigua (photo courtesy of Steven A. Gunther)

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Sphaeralcea ambigua

Native to Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, and Mexico. Grows to 3–4 ft. tall and 2–3 ft. wide, with many stems covered in white or yellowish down. Broad, rounded gray-green leaves are crinkled and slightly lobed. Each stem bears many inch-wide flowers; usual color is glowing pink or orange, but white-flowered forms are occasionally available.

Sphaeralcea munroana

Native to intermountain West and Rocky Mountain foothills. Grows to 3 ft. tall and 1 1/2–2 ft. wide, with upright stems and rounded, slightly lobed gray-green leaves. Bears many wands of inch-wide salmon to reddish orange flowers from midsummer to early fall. Plants sold in California under this name may be the Argentine native S. philippiana, which grows to 1 1/2 ft. tall and 4–5 ft. wide and has leaves that are more deeply cut than those of S. munroana.

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