Wild mallows form long taproots with which they anchor themselves in the ground. In nature, they grow on fields and meadows and are therefore also referred to by some as weeds. Completely wrong, because from May the enchanting flowers awaken on the plant, which fascinate many plant lovers. These flowers stand out above all for their colorful stripes, which stand out darkly against the light pink to purple petals. In addition, the wild mallow provides a plentiful supply of flowers throughout the growing season, so that it usually provides an eye-catcher in the garden until October.
Table of Contents
- botanical name: Malva sylvestris
- other names: cheese poplar, carrot mallow
- belongs to the mallow family (Malvaceae)
- Annual to biennial herbaceous plant
- Foliage: ivy-like rounded to heart-shaped
- Flowering: pink or purple flowers between May and September
- Growth height up to 100 cm
- is one of the oldest known useful plants (vegetable and medicinal plant)
- Prachtstaude, Beetstaudenpflanze
The wild mallow prefers a rather dry, but nutrient-rich soil. The subsoil should also be loose and deep so that the perennial can spread its long taproot unhindered. It thrives in sunny spots as well as in partial shade that offers a few hours of sunshine a day.
- Light requirements: full sun to light semi-shade
- Soil: humic and moderately nutritious
- suitable for sandy, loamy or heavy soils with good drainage
- pH value: acidic, neutral and also slightly calcareous
- preferably deep, loose garden soil
Malva sylvstris grows biennially and even stays green during mild winters. Wild mallows can be planted in spring, summer or even autumn and are very adaptable to soil conditions as long as sufficient nutrients are available. It is best to start cultivating by sowing seeds indoors or buying seedlings from garden centers.
The wild mallow is a rather short-lived perennial, in very cold areas it often only grows as an annual. However, since the plant forms abundant flowers and produces a large number of seeds, it is very easy to cultivate it permanently without much effort on the part of the gardener. If you just leave the plant to its own devices, you will be surprised at where the slightly invasive mallow spreads throughout the garden. Often the wild mallow forms only foliage in the first year and only develops lush flowers in the second year. A heavy garden soil should be made more permeable in advance with some sand and grit. Very sandy soils tolerate some humus soil or can be improved with compost.
- Planting in frost-free areas: autumn (September to October)
- Planting in cold areas: from mid-May
- Planting distance: 40 to 60 cm
- Be sure to keep the bed free of weeds at the beginning
watering and fertilizing
The herbaceous plant is considered not very demanding and is very easy to care for in its cultivation. It should only be watered during longer dry periods so that its leaves do not dry out prematurely. Fertilizing before sprouting is good for the plant in spring. In this way, it is immediately supplied with all the nutrients it needs for rapid growth and does not have to be fertilized again. For this purpose, a long-term fertilizer such as horn shavings can be used or compost can be mixed under the garden soil. Alternatively, conventional flowering plant fertilizer every two weeks promotes lush growth and flowering.
The cheese poplar, as the wild mallow is also called, requires very little care. Old, yellowed or withered stems and flowers should be removed in spring before the plant sprout again. After that, it is sufficient to regularly cut off or break out dried leaves and flowers to support the vigorous growth and health of the flowering perennial. Although the life of the Malva sylvestris can be extended by pruning, the plant only remains fit and vital in the long term if it can repeatedly reseed and thus rejuvenate. Therefore, a few seeds should always remain on the plant in autumn.
From July to October, the seeds from the fertilized inflorescences of the wild mallow ripen. Their flowers are hermaphroditic, which means they have both male and female organs and are usually pollinated by bees or butterflies. It is best to pre-cultivate the seeds indoors, this can be done at the end of winter or in early spring. If you already have wild mallows in your garden and are planning to plant them again, you can harvest the seeds in autumn. The seeds should already be ripe. Ripeness can be recognized by the fact that the seed pods are no longer green but are dry and brown in colour. Since the seeds are very fine, it is best to remove the whole seed pods and crush them in a bag so that the seed pods open and release the seed.
Preculture in the house
The seeds of Malva sylvestris generally germinate very well and the plants grow into stately plants quite quickly. To give the mallows a head start on the plants sown outdoors, you can pre-cultivate the seeds in pots on the windowsill from late winter.
- Sowing indoors: from February
- Substrate: pre-mixed peat-based compost
- Alternatively: 4 parts mature compost, 2 parts peat moss, 1 part sand and 1 part perlite/expanded clay
- Pot size: 7 to 9 cm diameter
- Place seeds on the substrate
- press lightly into the substrate
- cover with earth
- place brightly, without direct sunlight
- Germination temperature: 18 to 22 degrees
- Keep substrate slightly moist
- protect from evaporation with a freezer bag
- Germination time: 7 to 21 days
Since wild mallow is easily propagated from seed, it is a good candidate for direct sowing in the garden. Choose a sunny spot in the garden for sowing and sow the seeds about an inch deep in well-drained, fine-crumbly, medium-nutrient soil. The best conditions are created by freshly dug garden soil that has been fertilized with mature compost and old roots and weeds have been removed.
- Time: late February to early April
- Put seeds on the ground
- press gently into the ground with your finger
- Distance: about 5 to 10 cm
- Keep soil slightly moist
- thin out after germination
- Planting distance: 40 to 60 cm
- the plants can remain in place
- alternatively plant in another location
Once the plant has established itself in the garden, it is no longer necessary to sow new seeds or place young plants in the bed. Because when the plant flowers, it later scatters its seeds all by itself, which then germinate the following spring.
Wild mallows grow as biennial plants, some of which become slightly woody near the ground. After the flowering season, the dead plant parts can be cut back to about 10 centimeters above ground level. The herbaceous plant forms new shoots in the root area as early as autumn, which hibernate green and then sprout again next spring. These shoots must not be cut off during a radical pruning, only the dead shoots from the current year. Although the Malva sylvestris is very frost-resistant down to -20 degrees, winter protection from leaves or straw is still recommended in particularly cold areas.
The flowers of Malva sylvestris usually appear pink, white, blue-purple or purple with dark veining. The flowers grow from the leaf axils to a height of over a meter. Some of the most attractive and popular varieties include:
- Blue Fountain: blue flower with dark blue veins and a deep violet background, height of growth up to 120 cm
- Demar Marina: Light blue-violet flowers with dark stripes, impressive growth height of up to 150 cm
- Inky Stripe: deep pink flower with dark purple stripes
- Marina Dema: purple-blue flowers with dark stripes, petals shaped like butterfly wings, up to 1.5 meters high, also suitable as a container plant
- Maharaja mallow Zebrina: mostly perennial, flowers white on the outside and violet on the inside, height of growth up to 100 cm, also suitable as a container plant
- Mystic Merlin: very varied variety, flowers in violet, blue or purple, up to 150 cm tall
- Pimley Blue: pure blue flower, height of growth up to 50 cm
- Roy March: purple flower with dark purple stripes
- var. mauritania: particularly large, dark violet flowers, very bushy growth up to 100 cm in height
diseases and pests
Wild mallows usually have hardly any problems with insect infestation. However, they are sometimes susceptible to various fungal diseases such as mallow rust. This type of fungus not only affects mallows, but is also a feared pathogen, especially for hollyhocks. Mallow rust can be recognized by the dark blisters on the underside of leaves and can kill the entire plant if spread uncontrolled. You can avoid mallow rust by watering the soil rather than over the leaves and thinning out the plant regularly to allow air to circulate properly. In the case of a slight infection with the fungus, you should immediately remove all affected parts of the plant and thin out the leaves. If the fungus has already penetrated deep into the mallow, only a complete elimination of the plant helps, so that it does not cause further damage in the garden. In this case, plant parts are not to be disposed of in the compost or in the organic waste bin, but with the household waste.
principle, the wild mallow only has to be planted or sown once, and then the pretty but relatively short-lived perennial multiplies all by itself in the garden and apart from occasional watering and fertilizing it hardly needs any care. The perpetual bloomer is not only perfect for cottage gardens, but also a good choice for flower pots on the terrace or balcony.