How to Grow Sphaeralcea Plants

Guide to Growing Globemallow, False mallow, and Desert Hollyhock

Sphaeralcea plants are half-hardy perennial sub-shrubs that range in height from 45 cm to 1.8 m (18 inches to six feet).

They have lobed leaves, and bloom in the summer with flowers that are reminiscent of hollyhock. The flowers may be orange, red, or purple.

Some of the more common names for Sphaeralcea include Desert Mallow, Desert Hollyhock, Globe Mallow, and Prairie Mallow.

Sphaeralcea coccinea
Sphaeralcea coccinea - Scarlet Globemallow by mmmavocado.

Sphaeralcea Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Globemallow, False mallow, Desert Hollyhock.
  • Life Cycle: Half-hardy perennial.
  • Height: 18 to 72 inches (45—180 cm).
  • Native: Americas.
  • Growing Region: Zones 7 to 9.

  • Flowers: Summer to early autumn.
  • Flower Details: Red, orange, rose-lilac, purple. Cup-shaped. Silky.
  • Foliage: Spiral. Palmate. Toothed. Grey-green. Downy. Woody-base, shrub.

  • Sow Outside: 1/4 inch (6 mm). Autumn using fresh seed. Germination time: two to three weeks. Temperature: ~65°F (18°C). Space from 6 to 36 inches (15—90 cm). Transplant to the final location in spring or autumn.
  • Sow Inside: No.

  • Requirements and care: Full sunlight. Sandy. Good drainage. Alkaline to acidic soils pH 5 to 8. Poor soil for best results. Survives in dry soil but regular watering can produce larger plants. Once established do not disturb. Propagate: by taking softwood cuttings in the summer. Self-seeds freely.
  • Family: Malvaceae.
  • Closely Related Species: Hibiscus, Pavonia, and Sida.
  • Miscellaneous: Named after the Greek for ‘Sphere’ (sphaira) and ‘mallow’ (alkea).

How to Grow Sphaeralcea

When growing from seed, it is best to sow members of the Sphaeralcea plant genus, such as Desert mallow and Globemallow, outdoors from ripe seeds in the autumn.

The seeds should be sown at a depth of 7 mm (1/4 inch) into a poor sandy soil. Ideally the soil will have a pH of 5 to 8.

These plants like to grow in sunny location. It should take about two or three weeks for the seeds to germinate.

If attempting to grow in a greenhouse, then supply a temperature of 18 to 21 degrees centigrade (64 to 70°F). Transplant outdoors in spring or autumn.

The spacing of the plants depends on the species: large varieties should be spaced about a metre (40 inches) apart; whereas smaller ones can be spaced from 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 inches) apart.

Caring for Sphaeralcea

It is very easy to look after Desert mallow, Globe Mallow and other Sphaeralcea species as they pretty much take care of themselves. That said, frequent watering will result in larger and healthier plants.

If you require more plants, then they can be propagated by taking cuttings from soft wood in the summer, or by dividing in the autumn.

Common Questions

How many members does the Sphaeralcea genus have?

The Sphaeralcea genus, known as Globemallow, consists of about 50 species.

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

Yes, Sphaeralcea species are favored for their colorful flowers and tolerance to dry conditions, making them excellent additions to gardens or landscapes.

Which Sphaeralcea species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Sphaeralcea ambigua, also known as Desert Globemallow, is a popular choice among gardeners.

Are members of the Sphaeralcea plant genus fragrant?

Sphaeralcea species are not typically known for their fragrance, but for their strikingly beautiful, hibiscus-like flowers.

What is the perfect location to grow Sphaeralcea?

Sphaeralcea plants prefer full sun and well-drained soils. They are suitable for xeriscaping or drought-tolerant gardens.

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

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

How do I remove Sphaeralcea plants from my garden?

To remove Sphaeralcea, uproot the entire plant including the root system to prevent regrowth.


The Sphaeralcea genus encompasses a variety of perennial plants native to North America. They are admired for their hollyhock-like flowers and grey-green leaves, and are often used in xeriscaping due to their drought tolerance.

Grow Sphaeralcea from seeds or cuttings, ideally in spring. They thrive in full sun and prefer well-drained, even sandy soil. Once established, they require minimal watering and care, making them an excellent choice for low-maintenance gardens or naturalized plantings.

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