July 5th, 2006
Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’

photo: Malva sylvestris Zebrina
2006-07-05. Austin, TX. French hollyhocks like the rain and cooler temperatures we’ve had the last couple of weeks.

I’m glad that our current nationalism has not become so fervent as to make us rename Malva sylvestrisfreedom hollyhocks”. In the vernacular, they remain French hollyhocks though I wonder what the French call them. Thomas Jefferson grew French hollyhocks and that’s good enough for me.

French hollyhocks are shorter and stouter than other hollyhocks. Mine is only 18 inches tall and has just begun blooming. They are another old-fashioned cottage garden flower in familiar company with the larkspur, sweetpeas, and cleomes. I’m looking forward to seeing if it self-seeds as well as it reputation promises.

Thanks again to Annie in Austin at The Transplantable Rose for this passalong plant. Now that it’s survived our outrageously hot and dry spring enough to settle in and flower, I’m looking forward to seeing it in all its seasons.

by M Sinclair Stevens

7 Responses to post “Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’”

  1. From r sorrell (Austin):

    I haven’t been successful with hollyhocks yet. I’m very jealous.

  2. From Stuart:

    I too am a fan of hollyhocks. Our cottage garden out the front has been crying out for these for some time, especially as I walk past our neighbours on still summer nights and watch theirs gently sway on the breeze.

    They just add so much interest to the garden. Great post.

  3. From Annie in Austin:

    Good thing I gave it to you – yours looks lovely, and most of mine have croaked! One is alive, but planted in a too-shady area it’s stretched to nearly 6 feet tall.

    This particular strain has self-seeded for years, and your plant is descended from some that grew in my IL garden and shared with my friend Barb. In 2004, I stuffed a few ripe seeds in my pocket while visiting Barb’s garden, and restarted them in Texas.

    Annie, if I can keep it alive long enough to produce seeds, you know I’ll pass them back to you. M–

  4. From Kathy (New York):

    I never knew anyone called them French hollyhocks. I’ve always known them as mallows.

  5. From Selma Tannenbaum:

    I purchased the malva this summer because I needed something of its height for the rear of a small, shallow flower bed I have cut out alongside our deck. It’s in partial shade of a mock cherry tree but gets some very direct sun from the east in the morning. It seems to be doing well altho maybe a little leggy. It seems to be running more to 2 ft. Could it be too much shade. I happened on this site looking for more information on its habits.

    I hope it survives our close to the ocean Long Island winter, and blooms next year. It really perks up the garden.

  6. From Helene:

    I love the picture of your Mallow. I think the name “french hollyhock” is just lovely. I’ve been growing these for a few years now and they do very well. They do self-seed but may come up a little later in the season. I had given a small plant or two to my daughter two years ago and last year they really self-seeded and were absolutely beautiful blooming quite late into the fall.

    Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear how my plants fare in other people’s gardens. — mss

  7. From Elizabeth Croft:

    Are French Hollyhocks deer resistant?

    I don’t know. I live downtown. I only have ‘possums, raccoons, and armadillos. — mss