Malva sylvestris 'Zebrina' is an easily raised perennial which thrives in sun or part shade, producing strong, erect stems crammed with white to pink flowers with purple, almost black 'flamed' markings. The purple veins out as if stroked on with a paint brush.
They don't all have the exact same colouration, some are darker and richer in colour, on others the lighter bands have more of a silvery appearance, but they all have the striking stripes.
Zebrina will flower the first season from seed, it is very easy to grow and 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.
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 is one of the truly grand old-fashioned flowers of that almost mythical English Cottage Garden, which so many people strive to recreate. The foliage is finely lobed and possesses the elegance of some ferns. Excellent in containers, or the sunny border, the flowers are very attractive to butterflies.
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 'sylvestris' is from the Latin for ‘of the woods’ and, so, a woodland plant but the application is often extended to mean a plant which grows in the wild.
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".
- Additional Information
Average Seed Count 30 Seeds Family Malvaceae Genus Malva Species sylvestris Cultivar Zebrina Common Name French Hollyhock, Tall Mallow Other Language Names IR. Lus na meall Muire Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers White to pink flowers with purple, almost black 'flamed' markings. Natural Flower Time July to September Height 90-120 cm (36-48 in.) Spread 45-60 cm (18-24 in.) Position Full Sun to Partial Shade Soil Prefers moist but well-drained Time to Sow Sow in February to June or September to October Germination 7 to 21 days.