. . . perennial care and growing information
One of the nicest members of the genus, Musk Mallow is an Old World perennial somewhere between a Hollyhock and Lavatera. This native of Europe, with faintly musk-scented foliage and pink, white or lavender flowers, can often be seen naturalized around old homesteads.
All species in the genus Malva have edible leaves, and these tend to have a mild flavor and a good texture. Grown for centuries; this culinary herb has medicinal uses similar to Marshmallow, or can be used as an alternative to lettuce as the bulk ingredient of a mixed salad.
Leaves can be used to reduce inflammations and ease bee stings, and in poultices to treat ulcers and hemorrhoids. Tea made from an infusion of the flowers given for colds and bronchitis.
Flowers are produced in great profusion and can be up to 2 inches wide. The attractive, satiny, pale-pink or white flowers are slighty musk scented, and bloom continuously all summer: July through September.
Plants form a bushy clump with woody bases, growing 2 to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. The entire plant has a mildly musky fragrance when bruised. The first leaves the plant produces in spring are entire but later leaves are very different, with a high degree of laciniation, being finely divided and deeply-lobed.
Easily grown plant, it will succeed in most soils though it prefers a reasonably well- drained and moderately fertile soil in a sunny position. In the wild it is found in fairly open and sunny habitats such as grassy places, pastures, hedgebanks and the sides of roads, especially on rich soils and avoiding acid soils.
If you have a wildflower meadow for summer flowering plants then you have an ideal place to grow the mallow. It is a very hardy plant and will tolerate temperatures down to about -25°c when it is dormant in the winter.
It doesn’t love summer heat; but it does adapt well to dry shade or to moist soil. In either case, light shade or morning sun and afternoon shade are best. Like many mallows, it can be short-lived, but it tends to self-sow as long as you let it.
If you cut the plant back to the ground when the flowering is almost over in the summer then you will generally be rewarded with a fresh flush of flowers in late summer.