How to Grow Malva Plants

Guide to Growing Mallow, Cheeseplant, and Musk-mallow

Members of the Malva genus can be either hardy annuals or perennials.

They grow from between 60 cm to 1.2 m (24 to 48 inches) in height, and carry cupped flowers of pink, white or purple.

Malva sylvestris
Malva sylvestris – Common Mallow by Pastilletes; creative commons.

Plants are ideal for growing in a garden border. and bloom from Summer through to the first months of autumn.

Malva Alcea
Malva Alcea - Greater Musk-mallow by Alexandre Dulaunoy.

Some common names for Malva plants include Musk Mallow, Hollyhock Mallow, and Curled Mallow.

Commonly Grown Malva Species

Malva sylvestris

Malva sylvestris
Malva sylvestris (Common Mallow / Cheeses / Tall mallow / Wild Malve), photograph by Janet graham; CC.

Malva neglecta

Malva neglecta
Malva neglecta (Cheeseweed / Dwarf mallow), picture by Andreas Rockstein; CC.

Malva verticillata

Malva verticillata
Malva verticillata Leaf (Chinese Mallow), photograph by Dalgia; CC BY-SA 3.0).

Malva Plant Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Mallow, Musk-mallow, Cheeseplant, Cheeses, Musk Rose, Australian Hollyhock. Mallow: Common; Bull; Tree; Tall; Hollyhock; Vervain.
Family: Malvaceae.
Life Cycle: Hardy annual. Hardy biennial. Hardy perennial.
Height: 16 to 80 inches (50 to 250 cm).
Native: Europe, Asia, Africa.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10.

Flowers: Summer and autumn.
Flower Details: Mauve, pink, white. Flowers range from 0.2 to 2 inches (0.5 to 5 cm) in diameter. Cup-shaped. Five petals.
Foliage: Lobed. Palmate/Pedate.

Sow Outside: Cover seed. Before last frost or in autumn. Spacing 10 to 24 inches (25 to 60 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: one to three weeks. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.

Requirements: Full sunlight or light shade. Can survive in dry soils. Water during prolonged dry spells.
Regular feed. Perennials should be cut back to the ground in autumn. Propagate: cuttings in the spring. If dividing do so in the spring in cooler areas and in autumn in warm areas.

How to Grow Musk Mallow and other Malva Plants in the Garden

Musk Mallow seeds can be sown outdoors in either early spring (before the last frost) or in early spring.

Once sown the Musk Mallow (and other Malva members) seed should be covered.

Ideally Malva plants like to grow in an area that is sunny, but can tolerate partially shaded areas in warm areas. The soil should be dry and have good drainage.

If you prefer to first grow Musk Mallow indoors, then start growing them about 7 or 8 weeks in advance.

They take from one to three weeks to germinate at about 21°C (70°F). Once growing they should be transplanted into the garden at a spacing of 25 cm (10 inches) for small, to 60 cm (24 inches) for larger Malva species.

Caring for musk mallow (Malva)

Members of the Malva plant genus such as Musk Mallow are easy to look after; they should be watered and fertilized frequently.

Once the growing season is over in the autumn it is best to cut the Malva plants back to ground level.

If you require more musk mallow plant, but do not want to grow them from seeds, then they can be propagated by taking cuttings in the spring, or by division of the plants in the autumn.

Common Questions

How many members does the Malva genus have?

The Malva genus includes from 25-30 species.

Do members of Malva make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Malva species are often grown for their attractive, hollyhock-like flowers and their tolerance of a wide range of conditions.

Which Malva species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Malva sylvestris (Common Mallow) and Malva moschata (Musk Mallow) are two species frequently found in gardens.

Are members of the Malva plant genus fragrant?

Some Malva species, such as Malva moschata (Musk Mallow), are known for their sweet, musky fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Malva?

Malva species prefer full sun or partial shade and tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. They are often used in borders or wildflower gardens.

Is Malva invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, Malva species are not classified as invasive in the USA.

How do I remove Malva plants from my garden?

Removal of Malva can be achieved by pulling the plant out from the root. Repeated removal over time will help to control its spread.


The Malva genus, a member of the mallow family, is a group of plants known for their showy, hollyhock-like flowers. Originating from Europe, Asia and North Africa, they lend a cottage garden feel to any landscape.

Plant Malva in a sunny spot with well-drained soil, ideally in late spring or early summer. They require moderate watering and will appreciate some extra care during dry spells, but overall, they're quite resilient and easy to grow.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Malva plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Mallow and Hibiscus plants.