From Europe; naturalized in U.S. These plants are related to and somewhat resemble hollyhock (Alcea), but they are bushier, with smaller, roundish to heart-shaped leaves. They are easy to grow from seed and usually bloom the first year. Need good drainage, average soil. Use in perennial borders or for a quick tall edging. Not long lived.
M. alcea. Perennial. To 4 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide; upper leaves deeply divided. Saucer-shaped, pink flowers to 2 in. wide appear from late spring to fall. Subject to root rot in hot, wet weather. The most widely available variety is M. a. fastigiata; it is narrower than the species. Resists deer.
M. moschata. MUSK MALLOW. Perennial. Erect, branching plant to 3 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide. Finely cut leaves; pink or white flowers to 1 in. wide or somewhat wider, summer to fall. Entire plant emits a mildly musky odor if brushed against or bruised. Named selections are more frequently grown than the species. 'Rosea' has pink blossoms; 'Alba' is shorter than the species (to 2 ft. tall) and bears white flowers.
M. sylvestris. FRENCH HOLLYHOCK. Perennial or biennial. Easy-to-grow plant with erect, bushy growth to 24 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide. Flowers are 2 in. across and appear throughout summer, often right up until frost. Reseeds; often seen in older gardens of the Lower South. Common selection 'Zebrina' (often sold as M. zebrina) has blossoms in pale lavender-pink with pronounced deep purple veining. 'Marina' bears light blue blossoms; 'Mauritiana' has deep lavender-pink, often semidouble flowers with dark purple veining. Resists deer.