Anisodontea – Anisodontea capensis

Anisodontea bears delightful flowers that are rather similar to those of the Tree Mallow, Lavatera arborea. This is an old fashioned plant once very popular but now rarely seen. It is difficult to understand why its popularity has declined.

The entire plant has a fresh appearance, with luxuriant growth and a profusion of flowers during the summer months. Given warmth and sufficient light, it will also produce flowers intermittently at other times of the year.

The flowers are produced singly or in pairs from the leaf axils. They are rose-red and have only a faint fragrance. The leaves, however, have a rather pleasant scent.

If Anisodontea is left to grow naturally, it will develop into a bushy plant 60-120cm (2-4ft) in height.

Display ideas Anisodontea can be pruned and trained to form a standard, in the same way as Fuchsias. Plants grown as standards are ideal for patios or balconies, during the summer.Anisodontea - Anisodontea capensis

Anisodon tea grows as a flowering shrub and can reach heights of 60-120cm (2-4ft). Note the 3-lobed leaves with wavy edges.


Anisodontea can be grown from seed or from cuttings.

Growing from seed

1 Sow seeds in March or April in a tray of seed compost and keep at 20°C (68°F).

2 Prick out seedlings in May—June into pots of compost made from equal parts soil-based compost, leaf mould and coarse sand. Grow on outdoors after hardening off and bring inside in September.

Taking Cuttings

1 Take cuttings from soft wood in spring, or from semi-woody shoots in July or August. Insert in pots of moist rooting compost.

2 Give bottom heat at a temperature of 21°C (70°F). Once the cuttings have rooted, repot in the growing medium.

3 Pinch out the growing tips a few times during the summer to encourage bushy growth.

Pests And Diseases

Fine webbing under the leaves and at leaf axils is caused by the red spider mite.

Prevention: This pest thrives in dry conditions. Keep the humidity high by frequent mist spraying and stand the pot on a tray of moist pebbles. The affected plant should be kept isolated for a while.

The plant dries out and withers in the winter if the temperature is not high enough.

Prevention: Keep the winter temperature above 11°C (55°F) and water when the compost is dry.


This plant is very undemanding. Cut it back before new growth begins in the spring. Pinch out new shoots in spring and summer to encourage bushy growth. Prune to a small standard tree if desired.

  • Potting: Use a potting compost made from equal parts soil-based compost, leaf mould and coarse sand. Repot annually in early spring water generously in the summer, allowing the compost to dry out a little between applications, and mist spray at regular intervals.
  • Water sparingly in winter.
  • Feeding: Feed once a week in summer with a weak solution of a standard liquid fertilizer.


  • Light: The plant thrives in full sun and can be put outdoors in a sunny but sheltered position during the summer.
  • Temperature: It will do well at 18°-22°C (65°— 72°F) in summer. In winter, keep at a minimum of 13°-15°C (55°-60°F).

Buying Tips

  • Anisodontea may be difficult to find. Try well-stocked nurseries or seed merchants specializing in more unusual plants. Buy plants in April—May.
  • Choose a plant with fresh green leaves and lots of flower buds.
  • Properly cared for, Anisodontea will live for many years.

The beautiful five-petalled flowers, rose-red with a darker centre, bloom during summer.

Anisodontea is a bushy shrub that has its main flowering period during the summer. It may be difficult to find, but is well worth looking for.

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