Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Mexican Turk's Cap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. mexicanus

Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Malvaviscus (mal-vuh-VIS-kus) (Info)
Species: arboreus var. mexicanus

Synonym:Malvaviscus conzattii
Synonym:Malvaviscus grandiflorus

One vendor has this plant for sale.

26 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 21 photos.
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21 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Phlint On Mar 3, 2012, Phlint from New Braunfels, TX wrote:

hummingbirds love it and it is very hardy and blooms all summmer and fall until it freezes. it is invasive, though, in my beds. it pops up everywhere and i prune it back often and i still have too much of it. but...the hummingbirds.

Positive Slats2 On Oct 21, 2011, Slats2 from Tucson, AZ wrote:

I suspect mine is of the Mexican variety, since it grows nearly 6 feet tall and the blossoms hang downward. I've had it for several years in Tucson, AZ. I provide frost protection on cold winter nights by training a 100-watt floodlight on it. It survived a freak 18-degree freeze last winter, froze to the ground, but has come back nicely over the summer to a height of about 3 1/2 feet. It spreads by forming roots where low branches are in contact with the soil and also seems to sprout from roots a few feet away from the parent plant. It is in shade most of the year, wilts during high summer sun, but revives in the evenings and seems no worse for the daily wilting. I plan to move a "child" (or three) from it to a shade garden in another part of my yard.

Positive Munga On Feb 22, 2011, Munga from Weatherford, TX wrote:

This is a gorgeous little plant. I say little, because I haven't been able to grow them very tall or bushy. My largest one was about a foot tall and two foot wide. But, the beautiful red blossums and the gorgeous little fruits bring brilliance to my shade garden. I get hundreds of seed pods which I am able to break open and plant each year. I hope to have more. I do wish they would grow taller and thicker. My hummingbirds love them.

Positive jpaczkowski0 On Feb 11, 2011, jpaczkowski0 from Houston, TX wrote:

I have a few of these turks caps (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii), native here in Texas. They are wonderful plants! I love the little swriled flowers that stand erect at about 1" tall. My plants are sprawlers. We have them planted against a fence in my backyard where it gets part sun/shade from my 2 live oak trees. I have heard that some folks get lucky with a more bushy appearance, but I can't achieve that without lots of trimming. Most shoots grow about 6 feet tall and lean against the fence where the other shoots I keep trimmed up so that don't fall over my other plants planted beside them. They bloom non-stop from spring till the first frost. Then die back. I just cut them back and they come back every spring. In parks and in country areas near Houston, I have seen them grow in the shade of trees, naturally. They are very drought tolerant and don't need any special help (except trimming where you think necessary.) The seeds are supposedly in the fruit that is produced after flowering (I have yet to see them), but I found the best way to propogate is just taking a cutting. I took some cuttings at the end of last summer and potted them and they look great. During our few freezes, I brought them inside and the cuttings are flowering already. I will plant them around one of my live oaks this spring for great green leaf and red flower color!

Positive ThomPotempa On Dec 10, 2010, ThomPotempa from Houston, TX wrote:

Love this plant. Puts out copious red blooms in drought conditions. Only watered for the first 6 months on a microdrip and since then ignored.

Positive Garden4Williams On Aug 27, 2010, Garden4Williams from Austin, TX wrote:

So glad to hear this plant is a butterfly and Hummingbird attractor. Our elementary school has an "underdeveloped" memorial garden that pretty much consists of two benches and a big area of Turk's Cap ... so I'm going to work with them to trim it back to spur new growth and flowering. I'm going to plant some fennel there too as I learned the hard way this spring that catapillars will FEAST on fennel. The butterflies will be a great addition to the science curricula ... lifecycle in action!

Neutral htop On Mar 11, 2008, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have not grown this plant. Mexican Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. mexicanus) has almost glabrous leaves with truncate bases; whereas, Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) has densely tomentose abaxial leaf surfaces and cordate bases. M. arboreus var. mexicanus has larger flowers (up to 50 mm long) and leaves than M. arboreus var. drummondii (flowers 35 mm long) and is more more "Hibiscus-like" or upright in habit. M. arboreus var. mexicanus blooms usually hang downward; whereas, M. arboreus var. drummondii blooms are more erect. M. arboreus var. drummondii is smaller in stature and has more of a "sprawling" habit. M. arboreus var. mexicanus is less free-flowering than M. arboreus var. drummondii with the heaviest bloom production in late summer through fall. Also, M. arboreus var. mexicanus is a bit less hardy than M. arboreus var. drummondii.

Neutral yockeygirls On Oct 22, 2007, yockeygirls from Debary, FL wrote:

Oh, how happy I am to of found this group. I have a Turk's Cap mess. We bought a house 2 yrs ago with a 60 ft wide, 15 feet tall and as deep as 20 ft in some areas. This thing is huge. We are NOT at all gardeners. I just want to know how to first get this thing in some kind of order and what I am supposed to do yearly or however much to maintain this. We would like to keep it big, as it is beautiful and private, but it is out of control. I would appreciate anyone's help!

Neutral Dinu On Oct 21, 2007, Dinu from Mysore
India (Zone 10a) wrote:

I have tried to grow this more than twice but failed. Reason 1: Termites. Reason 2: My rigidness of not resorting to insecticide and my favouring 'organic' methods. Cuttings from friends established in plastic covers, but when I decided to plant them in the ground - where I always prefer to pots - it was soon eaten up by the termites. Termites seem to have a liking for its *taste*! Again, a kind friend gave me a pot of established little plant. Once more, they ate the roots off and they died. I don't know if it was my bad luck or what, but my neighbour's shrubs are thriving and the pictures I have posted of both the pink and red varieties are from there, close to our compound wall.

Positive onalee On Jul 5, 2007, onalee from Brooksville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Extremely easy to grow plant here in Central Fl, however mine have NEVER gotten any seed pods, so I wonder if they are of a different variety? They were here when I moved into the house and grow profusely in this area. The oldest one I have gets over 12' tall with a 20 foot diameter. They bloom Fall, Winter and spring if not frozen back. I cut them all down to the ground in the spring before new growth starts and by mid summer they are back to full size. My husband, who's family has lived in Florida for 4 generations, calls these Sleepy or Sleeping Hibsicus. He recalls as a child pulling the blooms from his Grandmother's bush to suck the sweet nectar - often completely stripping her bush of blooms in one sitting. These root easly from hardwood cuttings, I used some cuttings from this bush for stakes to hold some other plants one year and every one of my 'stakes' rooted!

Positive gardengirl1960 On Oct 26, 2006, gardengirl1960 from Seabrook, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is a great plant for zone 9.
I am wondering if anyone has made cuttings from it yet?
I plan to try to make them very soon.
Also has anyone had any luck finding seeds on it?
Thanks, Tricia

Positive Plant4Wildlife On Aug 19, 2006, Plant4Wildlife from Westlake, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

If you want humming birds in your garden, this is great plant to have. Mine is in its second year in the ground and is doing wonderfully, with profuse blooms all spring and summer so far.

I noticed one member commented on it's being an invasive exotic in their area and I would always encourage people to stick with natives in their gardens when possible, as generally there are native plants that can provide the color and function that one wants in a garden :)

Positive boardmember On Dec 27, 2005, boardmember from Jennings, FL wrote:

I just found out what this plant is. It was in my yard when I bought my 50 year old house. Very attractive plant and easy to care for.

Positive QueenB On Oct 23, 2004, QueenB from Shepherd, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have both red and pink planted in my natives area in semi-shade. I have acidic sandy loam here, and they're doing great for not having been in the ground but a few months. My red one is now in full bloom (10/22/04). The pink isn't growing as quickly...I'm not sure why.

Positive narom On Sep 19, 2004, narom from Tecumseh, OK wrote:

I notice that most gardeners report Turk's cap in the warmer sothern states. I live in central Oklahoma (25 miles east of Oklahoma City) and have turks cap by my patio. I don't mulch and hardly ever water and it grows 5-6 feet every summer. I got it from Lafayette La. growing wild. I wrapped it in wet newspaper and flew home with it on an airline. I wonder how much further north it will grow. I dies back to the ground every winter.

Positive MotherNature4 On Sep 10, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is one of the problems with common names. The Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus) is described above by Marlar, but the common name of Turk's Turban belongs with Clerodendrum indicum.

I played with these as a child. Best of all, they are loved by hummingbirds.

Positive TURKS On Sep 9, 2004, TURKS from Atlanta, GA wrote:

We were given a cutting of this plant, and let it sit in a bucket for 8 months. We planted it in the ground in Atlanta, GA about 3 months ago, and it has grown huge. It is very hearty and keeps blooming. Hummingbirds are especially attracted to it.

Positive Marlar On Apr 6, 2004, Marlar from Paris, AR (Zone 7b) wrote:

My Turk's turban plant was given to me by a friend in Louisiana. This plant is also called Ladies teardrop, wild fuchsia and Scotchman's purse. It blooms here from summer to frost and I cut it back then. I also mulch it very good It will get 6 feet tall here and will spread.


Positive krustyart On Nov 9, 2003, krustyart from Cape Canaveral, FL wrote:

Some believe that Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii is a form or subspecies of M. arboreus var. mexicanus while others believe they are different species. However, they have significant differences: M. arboreus var. drummondii can withstand significantly lower winter tempratures and has slightly lobed leaves and smaller flowers that are easier for hummingbirds to access. M. arboreus var. mexicanus needs a frost free area and requires full sun to get the thousands of blooms that it is capable of producing (although it does bloom in the shade) and blooms at different times of the year than M. arboreus var. mexicanus

I don't know about M. arboreus var. drummondii's salt tolerance, but M. arboreus var. mexicanus is very salt tolerant; here in east-central Florida it's grown along the salty Indian River Lagoon and will grow right up on the dune of Atlantic Ocean.

Positive TerriFlorida On Oct 14, 2003, TerriFlorida from Plant City, FL wrote:

I had a Turk's Cap at my old place which grew from a stick pulled from a swamp. I planted it where it would get seasonal flooding and it rewarded me by eating part of the path and blooming nearly year round except when frost cut it back. If you pull the flowers from their -is it calyx?- the green part and suck on the base, you get the nectar the hummingbirds love. Very sweet!

I have planted here on my new place this plant's cousin, M. drummondii, which seems to be slower growing so far.

Positive brensaun On Jun 30, 2003, brensaun from Panama City, FL wrote:

We had a red Turk's cap when I was a child and I would like to add one to my native flower garden in Panama City, Florida now.

Neutral Monocromatico On Jun 28, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

This plant was initially introduced as decorative in gardens and some public places. But now it has invaded the forest reserves, and becames the dominant species on the sides of the roads that run inside the reserves. No previous studies were made, but probably it is leading native species to extinction.

However, the flowers are a great source of food to hummingbirds, also endangered species, so I guess it's not entirely a "pest"...

Positive texasgrwr On Jun 4, 2003, texasgrwr from Magnolia, TX wrote:

Here in Magnolia, Texas, I have a pink-flowered one that dies down and comes back every year. It is planted in partial shade, gets watered once a week in the hot summer. The plant was bought as a 1 gallon pot with two stems, it is now a nice bush about 3 feet across and 3 feet high. It blooms in the fall until frost. I have several clumps of the red-flowered growing wild on my property and they depend on rain and bloom intermittently.

Positive mmaloney On Nov 11, 2002, mmaloney wrote:

This plant is very low care except for grasshoppers chewing on leaves. Seems to thrive best in semi shade. This plant does not like full Florida sun. Seems to flower best in the fall, starting in September here.

Positive IslandJim On Oct 23, 2002, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Actually, this plant's main time of bloom is fall, winter, and early spring [the Cypress Gardens calendar lists it as blooming there in March]. It will, however, occasionally bloom at any time of year. Also, it should be noted, it needs to be severely pruned in spring because, like hibiscus, it blooms on new growth only--thus my hedge gets trimmed only once a year! Whether it needs it or not.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (3 reports)
Gadsden, Alabama (2 reports)
Scottsdale, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Little Rock, Arkansas
Paris, Arkansas
Encinitas, California
Roseville, California
San Francisco, California
San Rafael, California
Bartow, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Cape Canaveral, Florida
Debary, Florida
Delray Beach, Florida
Dunnellon, Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Hudson, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Lecanto, Florida
Navarre, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Panama City, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida (2 reports)
Riverview, Florida
Saint Augustine, Florida
Sebastian, Florida
Sorrento, Florida
Spring Hill, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Venice, Florida
Wellborn, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Barnesville, Georgia
Brunswick, Georgia
Lawrenceville, Georgia
Hebron, Kentucky
Bossier City, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Vacherie, Louisiana
Westlake, Louisiana
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Mathiston, Mississippi
Moss Point, Mississippi
Joplin, Missouri
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Greenville, North Carolina
Jacksonville, North Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Saint Helena Island, South Carolina
Dayton, Tennessee
Alice, Texas
Alvin, Texas
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas (4 reports)
Ballinger, Texas
Beaumont, Texas
Broaddus, Texas
Brownsville, Texas
Bulverde, Texas
Cibolo, Texas
Conroe, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
Dallas, Texas (2 reports)
De Leon, Texas
Desoto, Texas
Eagle Lake, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas (3 reports)
Galveston, Texas
Georgetown, Texas
Granbury, Texas
Houston, Texas (6 reports)
Humble, Texas
Johnson City, Texas
Kerrville, Texas
Killeen, Texas
La Porte, Texas
Los Fresnos, Texas
Midland, Texas
Missouri City, Texas
Mont Belvieu, Texas
New Braunfels, Texas
New Caney, Texas
North Zulch, Texas
Onalaska, Texas
Plano, Texas
Rockport, Texas
San Angelo, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Santa Fe, Texas
Shepherd, Texas
Spring, Texas
Waco, Texas
Waxahachie, Texas
Weatherford, Texas
Willis, Texas
Wylie, Texas

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