Lavatera arborea

Common Name: tree mallow 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Malvaceae
Native Range: Europe, northern Africa
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Purple-pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Fruit: Showy


Biennial or annual that can be difficult to grow well in the St. Louis area because of its preference for summer climates with cool nights and moderate amounts of rain. It dislikes hot and humid summers. It is best grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. For best results, purchase plants from local nurseries or start seed indoors 6-8 weeks before last spring frost date. Set plants out after last frost date. Taller plants may need staking or support. Deadhead spent flowers to extend bloom period. Plants may overwinter in the garden in USDA Zones 8-10. Plants may self-seed in some areas.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lavatera arborea, commonly called tree mallow, is a biennial that is often grown as an annual. It will bloom in the first year. It typically grows 3-6’ tall on thick, woody-based stems clad with velvety, 5 to 7 lobed, medium green leaves (to 9” long). Funnel-shaped, purple-pink, hibiscus-like flowers (to 2.5” diameter) appear in leafy racemes or axillary clusters from mid-summer to fall. Good cut flower. Synonymous with and sometimes called Malva dendromorpha.

Genus name honors J.R. Lavater, 17th-century Swiss physician and naturalist in Zurich.

Specific epithet means tree-like.


No serious insect or disease problems. Root rot, leaf spots and rust may occur. Watch for Japanese beetle.


Annual bedding plant. Containers.