The mallow family is a well-known and popular family with over 4,200 species of ornamental and useful plants, all with respective genera, subspecies and cultivars. These include above all hibiscus, marshmallow, mallow, but surprisingly also the cocoa tree, durian and cotton. The mallows are in themselves a small genus with only around 20 species. However, if one speaks of mallows, the ornamental mallows are usually meant. The wild hollyhock and the common hollyhock have been known as medicinal herbs since antiquity, but are now more often seen as weeds in the garden due to their modest flowering. The bush mallow, shrub mallow, cup mallow and the shrub poplar are of particular aesthetic importance. Despite their different looks, all four have very similar care requirements. In today’s article we will show you how to properly cut the mallow. So you can enjoy a magnificent bloom year after year.
In order for the mallow to grow luxuriantly, it must also be pruned in a timely and correct manner
What tools should you use to cut?
Various ornamental mallow species can be divided into annual, biennial and perennial. There are giant strains that can grow up to 2 meters and there are also dwarf ones that don’t get taller than 70 cm. It is important to choose an appropriate tool that will make a clean cut without unnecessarily damaging the plant tissue. After all, improper pruning can often make the plant more susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections.
Luckily, the methods used to cut the different varieties are not too different since they all belong to the same species. If you have a small or young plant with thin stems, it is convenient to use pruning shears. However, if the trunks are thicker than 3 cm, a pair of pruning shears will give better and cleaner results.
Secateurs must be sharp so as not to crush the stems
Disinfect your tools
Like any other cutting tool, all types of secateurs require regular sharpening. However, gardeners often forget that these tools also need periodic disinfection. Ideally, you should do this every time you switch plant species. If you e.g. For example, if you have cut roses first, it is not advisable to cut the mallow at the same time. This minimizes the risk of spreading various diseases from one plant to another.
To sterilize your garden tools, you can simply wipe their blades with a rag soaked in 70-100% isopropyl alcohol and then let it evaporate for a few minutes. We do not recommend using bleach to disinfect tools as this chemical can damage the metal and handles.
Garden tools require as much care as the garden plants themselves
When is the right time to cut mallow?
Mallow must be pruned annually so that the plant also blooms profusely in the next flowering season. Under ideal conditions, most varieties flower from May to September. In winter, biennial and perennial varieties go into a dormant state, using up the energy stored in their stems.
Annual varieties, on the other hand, die off completely with the first frost. However, that doesn’t mean you should remove them when they stop blooming. Annual seed pods sprout when bees and butterflies have pollinated them during their flowering period. In late autumn, the small, scale-like seeds dry out and can be collected. Alternatively, you can leave the process entirely to nature. The plant can then be removed without hesitation.
Once dry, the seed pods can be collected
The best time to cut mallow, which should also flower next year, is in early spring, after the last frost and before new growth begins. If you are not sure where to cut, you can also wait until the first buds or shoots form. However, do not wait until they are longer than 10 cm.
What are your favorite types of mallow?
Now how do you go about it?
Take your disinfected and sharpened secateurs and look at your mallow from all sides. Cut off any dead stems at ground level or down to the main stem. If you’re not sure if a stalk is still alive, simply scratch its bark lightly with a nail or the blade of your tool. If it isn’t green underneath, but is dry and brown, you can cut it off without hesitation.
Look for tiny buds or first sprouts on the stems that are still alive. Of course you shouldn’t cut them off. Instead, cut the stem 2-3 cm above the bud.
Once you’ve removed all of last year’s dead stems, it’s important to nourish the plant and encourage strong new growth. To do this, simply apply a layer of mature compost around the base of the plant and water thoroughly. You can also use diluted liquid fertilizer of your choice.
Your cut should look something like this
Deadheading method for longer flowering
Deadheading is a method of extending the flowering season of a flowering ornamental. With mallow, it is important to remove any wilted flower heads before they turn into seed pods. This is because producing seeds can be very taxing for a plant, and as a result, it won’t bud as much.
Cut wilted flower heads from the base
Propagate mallow by cuttings
You don’t necessarily need seeds to propagate your mallow. It’s much easier to take cuttings. The ideal time for this is midsummer. Look for healthy, strong shoots with a length of 10-15 cm. Carefully cut them at an angle with sharp pruning shears, then immediately dip them in rooting powder and plant in seed pots. If you want to use your own potting soil, mix compost and garden sand in a 1:1 ratio. Once roots have developed and the cutting begins to grow, transfer it to a larger pot. It is best to wait until next spring to plant the young mallow in your garden bed. This way you can minimize the risk of your young plant dying from the winter frosts.
The bush mallow is visually very similar to the marshmallow
If you want to enjoy a lush bloom, then pruning mallow is simply part of gardening in spring. Done right, this ornamental will reward your effort lavishly and in no time.