More from the Rain Garden: Seashore Mallow

Seashore mallow (Kosteletzkya virginica) lights up the rain garden during the month of September with its parade of light pink flowers. Pollinators are all over it, sipping nectar and basking in the morning sunshine. 

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The flowers open in the early hours as the sun hits the shrub from the east. Like other members of the mallow family [cotton, okra], the flowers wilt later in the day. Each bloom only opens for a day; however, the shrub flowers in such abundance you hardly notice this tendency.

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Seashore mallow is a wonderful addition to a habitat or pollinator garden. It provides a nectar source for late season bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. This is the time of year that our hummingbird population explodes. The migrating RTH are joining our hummers that have been in our garden all summer so its critical to have multiple feeding sources as they are very territorial. 

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ruby throated hummingbird

The yellow butterflies are especially fond of these rosy flowers. Cloudless sulphurs and Eastern Tiger swallowtails flutter around regularly.

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cloudless sulphur butterfly

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

Carpenter bees are constant visitors. Coated in pollen, it is fascinating to watch them fly with all that pollen clinging to their abdomen. 

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carpenter bees

In nature, seashore mallow grows in the brackish marshes along the southeastern seashore but they adapt well to a variety of garden conditions from rich, wet soil to normal garden soil. It is a stand out plant in our rain garden surrounded by other moisture loving perennials. Seashore mallow shares similar growing requirements with joe pye weed (Eutrochium spp.), iron weed (Vernonia spp.), and switch grass (Panicum virgatum) and would make great companions for a fall show of texture and flowers. 

* * * For more on our rain garden see post on rain lilies (Zephyranthes atamasca) * * *

Below are four views of our seashore mallow shrub that grows in the rain garden bed at the front of our south facing home. This provides you with a 360 view of the shrub. 

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with Sisyrinchium angustifolium, and
lavender (which will need to be transplanted to drier bed)

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Clethera alnifolia, Thelypteris kunthil, Zephyranthes atamasca,
rudbeckia hirta and gaillardia

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with Spirea tomentosa, Stokesia laevis, Zizia aurea
and Cercis canadensis


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with Iris versicolor, Iris cristata, Monarda punctata,
Zephyranthes atamasca, Penstemon digitalis

This underused [in landscapes] perennial shrub is often overlooked in favor of hibiscus plant species but is a worthy addition to a garden for late summer / early fall color. The leaves fall in winter and stems can be cut back in spring as new shoots emerge. Below is a photo from June when other perennials are blooming in this bed. You can see the size of the seashore mallow between the lavender and penstemon. It easily triples in size from mid-summer to fall. 

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mid-summer view of bed

Comments

  1. Hi Karen,

    I've been intrigued with this plant for the past few years. I bought a one gallon plant last year and it flowered but didn't come back this spring. I'm in Oregon, Zone 8b but we easily had a Zone 9b winter last year. This spring, I purchased two more plants (mail order both years). The first plant died within a few weeks, still in its pot in a shady spot recovering from the journey. Now it looks like the second plant, also still in its pot, looks like it might die. I've been gardening for over 30 years and can confidently say I know my sh*t, but this plant is keeping me humble. Any special tricks you can provide would be great. Thank you. Great post. Your plant looks fabulous and I'm jealous!

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    1. Our seashore mallow is pretty care free. They are in full sun and moist soil conditions (rain garden) and we don't supplement water unless extreme drought conditions. I'm surprised that your plants died so quickly after purchase. Initially I would look at your soil pH. Our soil is on the acidic side. I would also be sure that plants get regular water while getting established. They could also be sitting in water and be happy. I'm sorry I don't have any better tips for you. Wish you luck and hope you have success growing in the future. It really is a fabulous plant.

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  2. Gorgeous! And look at all those pollinators...and pollen!

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    1. Thanks Beth. I could watch the pollinators and their interactions all day. It is funny to watch the hummers push the swallowtails out out of the way as they race around the shrub.

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  3. A real beauty - and an amazing wildlife plant!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Jason. It is one that we enjoy in early fall before the traditional fall flowers like goldenrod and asters begin to bloom.

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One of my favorite things about blogging is the conversation with readers. Leave a comment and let's get talking. ~Karin

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