Malvaviscus 'Big Mama'
Common Name: wax mallow 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Malvaceae
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to October
Bloom Description: Red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds, Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought


Moderately fertile, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best with minimum of 4-6 hours of full sun per day. Plants are generally fuller and more floriferous in full sun. Site in areas protected from strong winds. Prefers moist soils, but has some drought tolerance once established. Cut back stems after this plant enters fall dormancy. Winter hardy to USDA Zone 7. Can be grown as an annual in the St. Louis area.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Malvaviscus is a genus of shrubby herbaceous hibiscus relatives that are native to the southern U.S., Mexico and Central America.

Genus name comes from the Latin words malva meaning mallow and viscidus meaning sticky in reference to the sap produced by genus members.

‘Big Momma’ is the result of a cross between Malvaviscus drummondii (Turk’s cap with upward facing 2” long flowers and winter hardiness to USDA Zone 7) and Malvaviscus penduliflorus (giant Turk’s cap with drooping 3” long flowers and winter hardiness to USDA Zone 9). This hybrid basically combines the excellent winter hardiness of the former with the larger flowers of the latter. It was developed and subsequently introduced into commerce in 2005 by Texan Greg Grant.

Plants grown in full sun typically rise to 4-6’ tall. Showy, hibiscus-like, 5-petaled scarlet red flowers (to 2 3/4” long) bloom, usually in abundance, from mid-summer to first frost at which point plants will die to the ground in the nature of herbaceous perennials. Bloom may occur year round, however, in frost free climates. The flower petals twist and swirl around the extended pistil and stamens which protrude beyond the petal tips, thus giving rise to the sometimes used common names of Turk’s cap (flower shape) and sleepy mallow (resembles a hibiscus bud that doesn’t completely open). Hummingbirds, butterflies and bees are attracted to the flowers. Flowers give way to marble-sized red fruits which are edible. Oval, sometimes slightly 3-lobed, dark green leaves (to 8” long) are evergreen in frost free climates.


No serious insect or disease problems. Japanese beetles and spider mites.


Sunny landscape areas. Borders. Open woodland gardens. Grow as an annual where not winter hardy.