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April 14, 2018
What is this plant? I have overwintered it inside and it is beginning to bloom.
The plant is commonly called Turks cap or Turks Turban – Malvaviscus arborea. The
plant is a hardy perennial through most of Arkansas but it can be damaged in NW Arkansas
in cold winters. It does best in full sun to partial shade. Once established it is
quite drought tolerant. It is related to hibiscus, but this one typically doesn’t
bloom until late summer/early fall. It is a favorite host of hummingbirds and butterflies.
October 17, 2015
Can you please identify this plant for me? I grew it from a seed I harvested outside
a building in southern Arkansas three years ago. I mulched it heavily last winter
not knowing if it would survive our NW Arkansas winter. But it came back and it has
grown about 2-3 feet tall with multiple stems and numerous blossoms. What is it and
what is its hardiness level?
The plant in question is commonly called Turk’s Cap or Turk’s Turban. It is Malvaviscus
arboreus a great perennial in most of our state, but would need a bit of help in the
northern tier. It should be hardy to about 0 degrees. I think adding an extra layer
of mulch over your plants once they go dormant is a great idea to protect it. Save
some seeds as added protection. Hummingbirds and butterflies love this late season
bloomer which is a member of the hibiscus family.
Featured Story - Late Season Color
Unfortunately brown is the most common color in many landscapes across our beautiful
state, unless someone has been watering. Rainfall has been spotty across the state,
and thankfully some yards are finally getting a bit of a break, but it will take more
than a few showers to get plants back up and growing. If you do see blooming plants
in landscapes, you know they are tough performers to take this summer and stand up
to it. If your garden could use a shot in the arm, there is help available at many
nurseries and garden centers. Late summer into early fall provides a challenge for
many gardeners, but there are some really good perennial plants that bloom every year
in late summer or fall. Goldenrod is a late summer/ fall bloomer that has been blooming
for a few weeks already, and there are numerous new varieties with bright yellow flowers,
that are not invasive. Turks cap (Malvaviscus arborea) is a member of the hibiscus
family that annually has beautiful orange flowers which attract butterflies and hummingbirds
from late summer through fall. Other perennials that are still blooming are butterfly
weed (Aesclepias) with orange blooms, black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) with yellow flowers,
garden phlox in shades of pink and white, purple coneflower (echinacea), blanket flower
(Gaillardia), wand flower (Gaura), and Joe Pye weed (Eupatoria). Don’t overlook salvias.
Many salvia plants struggled this summer, but should bounce back and shine in the
late season garden. From small ‘Black and Blue’ to the large Mexican bush sage, there
are some great choices with flowers ranging in color from pink to red, white, blue,
and purple. They can be a magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds. And Russian sage
(Perovskia), a member of the mint family, is another tough as nails plant with open
airy silver gray foliage and purple flowers. Other perennials that are just beginning
or will be in bloom soon, include asters, chrysanthemums, Japanese anemones and turtlehead
(Chelone). Toad lily (Trycertis) will soon follow along with Autumn Joy sedums. Ornamental
grasses also come in all sizes and shapes and are drought tolerant to boot. The foliage
is nice all season but it is in the latter part of the year that they begin to bloom
and the plumage they put on gives you all fall and winter interest. The pink blooms
of purple muhly grass make it a new favorite, but there are many grasses to try. Height
can vary from 12 inches to 12 feet, so know the available space before planting the
grasses. The only maintenance they need, is being cut back every year in late winter
to early spring. Annual varieties like the purple fountaingrass, or the variegated‘Fireworks’,
purple millet and fiber optic grass can give you the grassy texture and form, but
have to be replanted every season.
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