Anisodontea, or Cape mallow, is a beautiful shrub that bloom in spring. It deserves a prominent spot in gardens or balconies and terraces.
Summary of cape mallow facts
Name – Anisodontea
Family – Malvaceae (mallow family)
Type – perennial shrub
Height – 5 feet (1.5 m)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – well-drained
Foliage – evergreen
Flowering – April to October
Planting cape mallow
It is best to plant them in the spring, after the last freezing.
For plants purchased with their roots bare, planting is best done in fall.
- Cape mallows flower best when planted in a well-lit place.
- They like light and well drained soil.
- Provide for regular watering over the first year.
- Refer to our advice on planting shrubs.
This shrub is particularly well adapted to growing in pots. For that, use planting or horticultural soil mix.
Cape mallows can bloom all year long as long as temperatures stay above freezing.
It is possible to grow Anisodontea indoors. For best results, it is best to simulate a period of dormancy: keep the plant in a cool, well-lit spot, that doesn’t freeze.
Propagating cape mallow
- The only way to propagate cape mallows is through cuttings.
Pruning and caring for Anisodontea cape mallows
It is best to prune at the very beginning of spring to spur blooming.
The ideal pruning window is from the end of winter to the very beginning of spring.
- Cut back drastically, but always leave a few pairs of leaves at the base of the stem.
- Cutting cape mallows back helps favor summer blooming.
- Remove dead wood.
Watering and fertilizing
Water your cape mallow only in case of prolonged dry spells and/or heat waves.
- Water in the evening, around the base of the plant, to avoid losing water through evaporation.
- Potted cape mallow requires very regular watering. Water as soon as the surface soil is dry.
- Provide for regular watering over the first year after planting.
Add granulated flower shrub fertilizer in spring.
Overall, caring for cape mallow is straightforward and easy.
All there is to know about cape mallow
Native to South Africa, it grows particularly well in southern temperate climates or along the Atlantic coast.
Even though its foliage is evergreen, a cold spell that lasts more than a couple days will make it lose its leaves.
That’s why it is recommended to leave this plant outdoors only if winters are very mild.
For the most common and favored varieties, Anisodontea capensis, also called dwarf pink hibiscus, are famed for their pink flowers with a red center, but there are also Anisodontea hypomadarum which have magnificent pink blooms, or Anisodontea malvastroides which boast pastel pink flowers.
The name “Anisodontea” comes from the greek word aniso which means “uneven” and odon which means “without teeth”.
Smart tip about Anisodontea
If potted, it is advised to repot the shrub every 1 or 2 years.
If already too large, topdress the soil.
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Anisodontea bush by Serres Fortier under © CC BY 2.0
Pink anisodontea by Matheson Harris ★ under © CC BY-NC 2.0
White Anisodontea by Yoko under © CC BY 2.0