Musk mallow, Abelmoschus, is newly introduced to ornamental gardens in the United States. This brightly colored flower is in the same genus as the vegetable okra. Hibiscus is also a close relative and their resemblance is striking. The 3- to 4-inch flowers appear in July from an early start indoors. Each flower lasts only a day, but the profusion of buds provides a continuous show of color.
Description of musk mallow: Plants grow 15 to 20 inches high and wide. Musk mallow flowers are pink or red with white centers and appear above the arrowhead-shaped leaves.
How to grow musk mallow: As with other members of the genus, it thrives in heat and full sun. Provide abundant water and a rich soil for best performance.
Propagating musk mallow: By seed. Seeds take at least 15 days to germinate at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. For husky plants, start at least 8 weeks prior to planting in the garden. First bloom is approximately 100 days after sowing. Plant musk mallow 1 foot apart when the soil has warmed and nights remain above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Uses for musk mallow: This bright plant can be used for a sunny garden ground cover. Plant it mid-border or as an edging for borders in front of taller plants. Use it as a container plant where its mounding, flowing habit combines well with taller plants. Its tropical appearance looks attractive with cannas and other exotic-looking plants.
Musk mallow related varieties: Some varieties include 'Oriental Red,' which is cherry-red with white centers, and 'Pink,' white-centered with a pink blush. The Pacific Series include 'Pacific Pink,' 'Pacific Orange,' and 'Pacific Scarlet,' an orange-scarlet variety.
Scientific name for musk flower: Abelmoschus moschatus