What plant with stunning petals could you see growing in an alley, a xeriscape garden, and the Sonoran Desert? Most likely the correct guess is Sphaeralcea ambigua, more commonly known as desert globemallow or apricot mallow.
The genus Sphaeralcea (globemallows) contains about 50 plants primarily in North America, and most have flowers in the orange to red range. The most drought tolerant member is the desert globemallow. This largest-flowered globemallow blooms most heavily in the spring, but continues to flower through November.Arizona Native Plant Society
Flowers: J F M A M J J A S O N D
Origin: Found on dry, rocky slopes, and along sandy washes below 3,500 ft. in southwestern Utah, eastern California, Arizona; south into Sonora and Baja California
Size: 3′ tall x 4′ wide
Sun: Full to part
Watering: Supplemental only (to keep compact)
Growth Rate: Moderate to Fast
Soil: Tolerant of most desert soils
Temperature: Tolerant, cold hardy to 10 degrees F
Pruning: Head back severely in September through November in order to rejuvenate during the winter active growing season
Disease and Pests:
Uses: Host for the Gray Hairstreak, Northern White Skipper, Laviana White Skipper, Common Streaky Skipper, West Coast Lady, Painted Lady, Common Checkered Skipper, Small Checkered Skipper, Great White Skipper, Bird Dropping Moth, Mallow Moth and the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth. The large number of flowers produced throughout the year provides a steady source of pollen and nectar to many pollinators, such as hummingbirds, native bees, honeybees, butterflies, and moths.
Notes: May go dormant in summer. Flowers can be orange, pink, white, lavender, peach or red colored. Overall vigor in urban desert landscapes that is much dependent on seasonal water availability. Reseeds readily.
There are three varieties of Sphaeralcea ambigua:
- S. ambigua var. ambigua (mountain apricot mallow)
- S. ambigua var. rosacea (rosy apricot mallow)
- S. ambigua var. rugosa (apricot mallow)
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