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Apricot Mallow: a desert native with abundant gorgeous flowers

Tehachapi Gardener's Choice

This loveable plant, like so many others, is known by several different names, including Apricot Mallow, Desert Mallow, Desert Globemallow and others. By whatever name is used, however, it is a great addition to your garden.

It is native to the Mojave Desert and there are lots of them growing alongside Highway 14 as you head towards Red Rock Canyon State Park, so clearly they are drought-tolerant, but unlike many xeriscape plants, Apricot Mallow is also fast-growing. They grow into blooming plant that may reach about three feet tall, and they are covered with lovely salmon pink or apricot orange flowers. There is a wide diversity of color possibilities, however, and gardeners report having Apricot Mallow whose blossoms are coral, red, deep orange, magenta or pale pink.

Like many of the plants in the "Tehachapi's Gardener's Choice" feature, Apricot Mallow was grown in the gardens of the Mourning Cloak Ranch and Botanical Garden that used to be on Old Town Road, and many containers of them were sold at the plant nursery on the property.

Apricot Mallow has grayish green foliage and small cup-like flowers with papery petals and bright yellow centers. Native bees and other insects like Apricot Mallow, and some butterfly species like Northern Checkered Whites and West Coast Ladies will lay their eggs on Apricot Mallow and use it as a nursery plant for their caterpillars. The blossoms also work well as cut flowers in arrangements.

Because it grows quite fast and is a perennial, Apricot Mallow is a great choice for stabilizing areas of disturbed soil or slopes. It also tolerates clay soils, though it prefers to be planted in areas with good drainage where water won't stand for too long.

In the wild, of course, Apricot Mallow must rely on infrequent rains, but in your yard it will appreciate occasional watering, as long as it isn't kept too wet or shaded. Apricot Mallow can also be a container plant, though you'll need to prune it from time to time and the pot will need to be good-sized. Beautiful and unfussy, Apricot Mallow might become one of your favorite plants. Apricot Mallow is often sold at the Tehachapi Resource Conservation District's Native Plant Sale, which is coming up in April.

Apricot Mallow

Botanical name: Sphaeralcea ambigua


Starting: Containers.

Size: One to four feet.

Exposure: Full sun.

Watering: Rainfall, occasional.

Jon Hammond.

Apricot Mallow is a desert plant that does well in Tehachapi gardens.