Malva is one of the truly grand old-fashioned flowers of that almost mythical English Cottage Garden, which so many people strive to recreate.
Malva moschata is a neater and more elegant relative of the common mallow. It has lovely, ice-pink, solitary, flowers which grow in the leaf axils and a terminal cluster of flowers. The foliage is finely lobed and possesses the elegance of some ferns.
A very easily grown plant, carefree and requiring no maintenance. It will succeed in ordinary garden soil, though it prefers a reasonably well-drained and moderately fertile soil.
Malva will bloom profusely in a sunny position, although it is regarded as a plant suitable for part shade, it will grow less spindly in full sun.
Malva moschata is a species native to Europe and south-western Asia, from Spain north to the British Isles and Poland, and east to southern Russia and Turkey. It is often grown as an ornamental plant for its attractive scented flowers, which are produced throughout the summer.
Sowing: Sow in February to June or September to October
Seed is best sown in a cold frame in spring or autumn but can also be sown directly where they are to flower.
Seed germinates quickly and easily.
Fill pots or trays with a peaty compost. Stand the post in water to soak and then drain, sow the seeds on the surface and cover with a fine layer of sieved compost. Keep the surface of the compost moist but not waterlogged. Germination usually takes 7 to 21 days. Prick out the seedlings into 7cm (3in) pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in their permanent positions in the early summer.
Alternatively, sow in late spring into a well raked bed ensuring that the soil is fine and crumbly. Scatter the seed, rake lightly and firm down well. Keep well watered and weeded in early stages. When large enough to handle, thin out seedlings to 45cm (18in) apart.
Attractive rosettes of large leaves are produced in the first year, with tall spikes of flowers in the second year.
Little maintenance is needed. Tidy up old stems and foliage in spring before it starts to grow again. Collect seed in late summer.
Malva are not fussy about soil pH, but prefers moist but well-drained or well-drained soil. It can tolerate strong winds but not maritime exposure. It is a very hardy plant and will tolerate temperatures down to about minus 25°C (-13°F) when it is dormant in the winter. The plants are not generally bothered by pests, except for minor slug or snail damage.
All species in the genus Malva have edible leaves, and these tend to have a mild flavour and a good texture. They are common additions to "wild" salads.
Mallow flowers are a sweet and decorative garnish for deserts. Press them lightly into jellies, mousses or puddings or arrange on a frosted cake.
All mallow flowers press well and are highly prized in floral crafts
Cottage Garden, Wildflower Meadow. Flowers Borders and Beds, Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade, Hedgerow.
The word 'mallow' is derived from Old English malwe, which was imported from Latin malva.
The species name moschata is applied to a number of plants and means 'Musk'. The plant is also commonly called 'Musk Mallow'.
The species name moschata is given to a number of classes of plants that give off a mild scent (ie some rose species) the scent is said to be comparable to that of the Siberian musk deer - Moschus moschiferus.
The Siberian musk deer is found in the mountain forests of Northeast Asia. Its is most common in the taiga of southern Siberia. Adults are small, weighing 7 to 17 kg. It classified as threatened by the IUCN. It is hunted for its musk gland, which fetches prices as high as $45,000 per kilogram. Only a few tens of grams can be extracted from an adult male. It is possible to remove the gland without killing the deer, but this is seldom done.
This plant is one of the earliest cited in recorded literature. Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Dec 8, 65 BC - Nov 27, 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.
Horace mentions it in reference to his own diet, which he describes as very simple:
"Me pascunt olivae, me cichorea, me malvae" - meaning "As for me, olives, endives, and mallows provide sustenance".
|Average Seed Count||250 Seeds|
|Common Name||Musk Mallow, Wildflower of Britain and Ireland|
|Other Language Names||IR. Hocas muscach|
|Flowers||July to September|
|Height||60-90 cm (24-36 in.)|
|Spread||45-60 cm (18-24 in.)|
|Position||Full Sun to Partial Shade|