Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Tree Mallow
Lavatera arborea

Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Lavatera (lav-uh-TEER-uh) (Info)
Species: arborea (ar-BOR-ee-uh) (Info)

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4 members have or want this plant for trade.

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4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
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)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Magenta (Pink-Purple)
Fuchsia (Red-Purple)

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season
Provides winter interest

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Click thumbnail
to view:

By kennedyh
Thumbnail #1 of Lavatera arborea by kennedyh

By kennedyh
Thumbnail #2 of Lavatera arborea by kennedyh

By stephenp
Thumbnail #3 of Lavatera arborea by stephenp


2 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive stephenp On Jun 9, 2013, stephenp from Wirral, UK, Zone 9a
United Kingdom (Zone 9a) wrote:

Lovely addition to the native coastal flora here, blooms profusely in mid summer, bringing a touch of the Mediterranean to the beach. Supposedly quite tender for a British native?

I have uploaded a photo on here, but one of the specimens on our towns beach has a candelabra habit, resembling plants more likely found on the Canary Islands - very attractive.

Positive peejay12 On Nov 4, 2010, peejay12 from Porthleven, Helston, Cornwall
United Kingdom (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have to say my experience with this plant is very 'positive'.

Most people have probably only seen this plant growing wild on the milder coasts of Britain and Europe - battered and torn by the winds and covered in aphids and capsid bugs.
And yet, with a little care and attention this cinderella of the lavateras can become a princess -- well, almost!

I grew the plants from wild-collected seed, overwintered the young plants and planted them out in Spring. Like Hollyhocks, these plants flower in their second year, but may behave like biennials or short-lived perennials.
In the sheltered conditions of the garden they grew much wider and luxuriant than by the sea - 7 feet high and 4 feet across, and produced a much better flower display. The flowers are rather like Malva 'Brave heart' - lilac with darker veining, but are far more numerous. **Keep spraying against plant bugs!**

My plants died after flowering, because they became smothered in aphids while I was away. The root system of these plants is tiny compared to the top growth and this may also effect their lifespan. This year I am growing them in very poor compost in wide pots, to encourage a larger root system, and will dead-head them regularly. Perhaps this will extend their lives.

They tend to grow one stem with shoots in the leaf axils, which extend to produce flowering branches. If you cut the plant back when it is two or three feet high it may produce several main stems and look like more shrubby.

A hybrid ('Pink mountain') has recently been produced, probably with L. clementii, which has larger, pink flowers. This is interesting as many botanists think L. arborea should be included in the genus Malva. Whether this hybrid lives longer or not is not yet known.


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

Baywood-los Osos, California
San Dimas, California
Lake Charles, Louisiana

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