How to Grow Sidalcea Plants

Guide to Growing Checkerbloom, Prairie mallow, and Checker mallow

Members of the Sidalcea genus are hardy perennials that range from 60 cm to 2.5 m in height (2 to 5 feet).

They have lobed leaves and carry purple, white or pink flowers similar to hollyhock atop loon erect stems.

Sidalcea blooms throughout summer. Some common names for Sidalcea include Prairie mallow, False mallow, Miniature hollyhock and Checkerbloom.

Sidalcea malfiflora
Sidalcea malfiflora by Tom Hilton.

Sidalcea Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Checkerbloom, Prairie mallow, Checker mallow, False mallow, Minature hollyhock.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial. Some annual species (e.g., Sidalcea calycosa (annual checkerbloom)).
  • Height: 24 to 96 inches (30—210 cm).
  • Native: Northern America.
  • Growing Region: Zones 5 to 9.

  • Flowers: Summer.
  • Flower Details: Pink, rose, red, purple, white. Tall erect flower stems. Five petals. Mallow-like. Terminal racemes.
  • Foliage: Herbaceous. Clumped. Rounded or palmate.

  • Sow Outside: Commonly grown garden cultivars are often hybrids and will not stay true from seed. 1/8 inch (3 mm) Start of spring.
  • Sow Inside: Germination time: two weeks to two months. Temperature: 50°F (10°C). Seven or eight weeks before expected last frost. Transplant outdoors following the last frost. Space at 10 to 18 inches (25—45 cm).
  • Requirements and care: Use manure. Water when dry.

  • Family: Malvaceae
  • Closely Related Species: Mallows, Hibiscus, Pavonia, Sterculia..
  • Miscellaneous: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Moist. Humus-rich soil, or enrich ordinary soil with manure. Neutral to slightly acidic pH. Regular watering during dry periods. Cut back once flowering has completed to encourage further blooming. Cut back at the end of autumn. Supply a mulch of straw in areas where snow is expected. Provide a stake for taller species. Divide every two or three years to maintain vigor. Propagate: by dividing in the spring in cooler areas or the autumn in warmer areas.

How to Grow Sidalcea

When growing Sidalcea plant species such as Prairie mallow outdoors from seeds, then sow at a depth of about 3 mm (1/8th inch) in the early spring.

Small varieties should be spaced about 25 cm (10 inches) apart, and larger species 50 cm (20 inches) apart. These mallows like to grow in sunny areas of the garden that have average soil.

If starting Sidalcea indoors, then start the process about two months before the last frost.

The seeds should take from two to seven weeks to germinate at a temperature of 10 degrees centigrade (50°F).

Once ready, transplant the young Sidalcea plants outdoors following the last frost.

Caring for Sidalcea plants

Sidalcea are very easy to care for. The soil that they grow in should be enriched with manure, and they should be watered in prolonged dry spells.

As many Sidalcea plants are tall they will require staking. Once flowering has finished strongly cut the plants back, this will result in a second bloom. If you require more plants then they can be propagated by division in the autumn.

Common Questions

How many members does the Sidalcea genus have?

The Sidalcea genus, also known as Checkerblooms or Prairie Mallows, consists of about 20 to 25 species.

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

Yes, Sidalcea species are excellent for gardens due to their attractive spikes of pink or white flowers and their tolerance of various soil conditions.

Which Sidalcea species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Sidalcea malviflora, commonly known as Checkerbloom or Dwarf Mallow, is frequently grown by gardeners.

Are members of the Sidalcea plant genus fragrant?

Most Sidalcea species are not noted for their fragrance. They are grown primarily for their attractive flower spikes.

What is the perfect location to grow Sidalcea?

Sidalcea prefers full sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. They are ideal for borders or wildflower gardens.

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

Currently, Sidalcea is not considered invasive in the USA. Always refer to local guidelines for the most accurate information.

How do I remove Sidalcea plants from my garden?

To remove Sidalcea, manually uproot the plants, ensuring to remove all of the root system to prevent regrowth.


The Sidalcea genus includes perennial plants native to North America. They are known for their tall, spiky growth habit and clusters of cup-shaped flowers that resemble miniature hollyhocks.

Sidalcea are grown from seeds or division, typically in spring. They prefer full sun to partial shade and fertile, well-drained soil. Regular watering is essential for their growth, and deadheading spent blooms can encourage a longer flowering season.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Sidalcea. You may also enjoy the following growing guides: How to grow Holyhock and Hibiscus Plants.