February 01, 2005

Malvaviscus arboreus var. Drummondii

This has to be one of the finest varieties in this species. It was very common in old Texas gardens. The popularity as a garden flower can be traced from the Gulf of Mexico to Florida.
Although this species of Turk’s Cap is more compact in its growth and bears smaller flowers and foliage than Malvaviscus arboreus (Giant Turks Cap), it can on occasion become as impressive in size. Turks cap can grow in alkaline or acidic soils and is well adapted to sun or partial shade. It is a deciduous perennial shrub height 5’-8’ spread 5’-8’ zone 7-11. Propagation is by cutting, transplants, or seed (usually spread by the birds, which are attracted to the red seed head).
I grow my Turk’s Cap in the two corner flowerbeds located in my back yard. In winter I prune back the long growing canes between 6-8 inches above the ground. The new canes or limbs form in early spring. As spring is followed by summer the showy red blooms start to appear just in time for the hummingbirds. Red tomato-like fruits that are edible and are fairly tasty (or so I have heard) follow the blooms.
This plant likes moist soil, but once established it is fairly drought tolerant. There is no other plant that can give so much color in such shade areas.
Furthermore, there are also white blooming forms of Turk’s Cap and a rare variegated leaf form that blooms red. However it has been known to lose its variegation and is not as cold hardy as the other two varieties. I have never noticed any insect damage that has ever amounted to anything. However, I did notice some powdery mildew this year from all the late spring rains. This plant is a keeper but it is also a plant that just keeps on going, like that pink bunny.
Happy Organic Gardening!

Posted by cheryn at February 1, 2005 09:55 PM