Prairie Mallow SIDALCEA

Sidalcea looks like a small and dainty Hollyhock, but its appearance belies its strong constitution. It is not troubled by disease and is long-lived, growing almost anywhere. From a clump of rounded, basal leaves the strong stems with their terminal flowering spikes appear. Each saucer-shaped bloom is about 1.5 in. across and the petals have a silky texture. It is a middle-of-the-border perennial which is generally not fussy about soil type, but it is not happy in dry, sandy land and the floral display will be poor if it is grown in deep shade. There is only one important rule to remember – cut down the stems to ground level once flowering is over. Failure to do so may result in a reduction in the number of stems next year.

VARIETIES: The Garden Sidalceas are varieties of S.malvaeflora – height 2-4 ft. Spacing 1.5 ft.

Flowering period: June-August. The flower colours range from shell pink (’Loveliness’, 2.5 ft) to deep red (’Croftway Red’, 3 ft). Between them are the favourites ‘Rose Queen’ (4 ft. rose-pink) and ‘Elsie Heugh’ (3 ft. pink). There is just one variety outside this pink and red range – ‘William Smith’ (3 ft. salmon).

SITE AND SOIL: Any reasonable soil will do – thrives in sun or partial shade.

PROPAGATION: Divide clumps in spring.

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