Globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) drought-tolerant and beautiful, adds a unique “cottage garden” look to the desert plants palette with some surprises
A flood of vibrant flowers is produced in spring, which will make people stop dead in their tracks.
The globe mallow will continue to bloom throughout the summer and autumn.
It is easy to see, with many effective adaptations for living with little water or soil fertility but plenty of sunlight and wind.
Get to Know The Globe Mallow
Globe mallow or globemallow is one of my favorite plants.
In its wild form it can be seen all over the desert.
Our desert climate is not a good place for flowers.
Although the desert can present a difficult environment for many life forms and is difficult to survive in.
There are some native species that have survived it – one of them being globe mallow.
This indigenous plant is known scientifically as Sphaeralcea ambigua.
This shrubby plant is fast-growing and rarely grows higher than 4 feet in height and width.
They generally can reach a size of 3 feet X 3 feet.
It is a perennial, but it rarely survives more than five years.
It can be maintained by cutting it to the ground in winter dormancy.
Futhermore, it is important to remember that the other name for it is “sore eye poppy”.
Globe mallow is native to the Southwestern regions of North America, where it can be found along rocky slopes and washes.
This perennial shrubby can withstand cold temperatures up to 20 degrees F.
Globe mallow plants are known for their orange flowers.
However, they can also be found in pink, purple, and white.
The orange-flowered variety is the most common at the nursery.
Some growers have begun to stock globe mallow in other colors.
Be careful, though: Unless the flower is marked or blooming, it’s impossible to know which color you will get.
This plant is also suitable for drought-resistant landscaping.
Globe Mallow View
The lovely flowers are only about one inch in diameter, but they are brightly colored and relatively flat.
Some varieties come in coral, while others are available with a variety of pink shades. It will produce blooms in abundance during spring but also some throughout the summer.
Color and shape are attractive to honey bees, butterflies, and native bees.
Habitat loss and the overuse of insecticides that are left in the environment for several weeks or months threaten all of these insects.
Its leaves are a sign of how well it can live in this area.
They aren’t large, like the leaves of desert plants or desert-adapted ones.
Because they are smaller, the area in which water can be lost through stomata is less.
They are less susceptible to being blown away by winds that could destroy larger, floppier leaves.
The leaf color is another adaptation.
It might seem gray at first glance, but its actually green, but they have a protective downy coat that gives them the appearance of being gray.
This is what we need to respect as an eye irritant.
This fuzziness is a shade for the plant and blocks some sunburn.
This is crucial because the Mojave Desert and other North American deserts are home to it.
Globe mallow helps to protect itself further.
The leaves have a scalloped edge and are wavy.
This shape change reduces the amount of sunlight that is directly in contact with the leaves, which is another important adaptation for desert dwellers.
Globe mallow can grow wild in the desert, so it might seem that it would grow in any garden.
However, this is not true.
It needs to be able to drain well, such as sandy soil.
It will die if it is surrounded by too much water.
Globe Mallow Uses
Globe mallow is a magnet for both butterflies and hummingbirds.
They are a great backdrop for small perennials, or small cacti.
You can make a desert flower garden with penstemons, desert marigolds, ruellias, and blackfoot daisies by planting them together.
This hardy, but beautiful, plant thrives in full sun. It also does well in areas of high reflected heat.
Plant them in sunny areas to avoid leggy growth.
Globe mallow self-seeds and the seedlings may be moved and transplanted in fall if necessary.
They can be used often for replantation because they grow easily from seed.
Globe Mallow Maintenance
This lovely perennial is extremely low-maintenance.
This perennial does not require any fertilizer or amendments of the soil.
Should only be pruned every 6-8 inches.
Globe mallow is not a type of plant you should repeatedly cut into a more formal shape.
Use gloves and long sleeves for pruning.
The tiny hairs on the leaves can cause irritation and eye irritation.
Globe mallow, once established, is drought-tolerant but will still need to be watered regularly for best results.
My globe mallow plants have been connected to my drip irrigation system.
They thrive when watered three-to four times per month, from spring through fall.
How to Grow Globe Mallow
Sometimes the surprise comes after you plant them, and then wait to see the blooms.
You can buy the mallows in spring bloom if you don’t like surprises in your garden.
The seeds will need to be softened by lightly rubbing them with sandpaper, or soaking them overnight in 180 °F water.
Mix the seeds with the moist sand and place in a baggie.
You can plant seeds in spring but make sure to choose an area with lots of sunlight before you do.
Make sure that the soil is clean and free from weeds.
I have an old colander I use outside, and I actually sift it before I plant seeds.
I then toss any weeds in the colander.
To allow the seeds to spread properly, they should be planted about 1/2 inch deep.
You should water the seedlings every once in a while until they become established.
While mature plants can grow well in drought, seedlings require moisture.