Abelmoschus moschatus

Common Name: musk mallow 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Malvaceae
Native Range: Tropical Asia
Zone: 9 to 11
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to frost
Bloom Description: Yellow to pink to orange-red
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Drought


Tender perennial that is winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11. In St. Louis, it is grown as an annual. Easily grown in moist, moderately fertile, well-drained soils in full sun. Best flowering is in full sun. Thrives in hot summer climates. Start seed indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date or purchase nursery plants. When grown from seed, flowers usually don’t appear until approximately 3 months after sowing. Set out plants after last frost date. Seed may be harvested from garden plants for planting the following year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Abelmoschus moschatus, commonly called musk mallow, is native to tropical Asia. It is a compact tender perennial that typically grows in a bushy clump to 1.5-2’ tall when grown as an annual. Species plants feature hibiscus-like yellow flowers (to 2-3” wide) with purplish centers. Cultivars expand the available flower colors to include attractive shades of pink, orange-red and red often with white centers. Flowers last only for one day, but plants bloom freely throughout the growing season to frost. Flowers give way to fruit capsules (to 3” long) which have a musky aroma, hence the common name. Hairy, dark green leaves are deeply cut into 3-7 lobes. Abelmoschus esculentus (okra) also features attractive yellow flowers, but is more commonly grown as a vegetable crop for its edible seed pods.

Genus name is believed to come from the Arabic and means "source of musk" in reference to the musky smell of the fruit capsules.

Specific epithet means musky.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for spider mites, slugs and whiteflies. Root rot may occur in poorly drained soils. Susceptible to powdery mildew.


Beds, border fronts, pots, containers