Desert mallow

Sphaeralcea ambigua


Desert mallow is native across the low, intermediate and high desert zones of California, Arizona and Mexico. It grows as a multi-branched perennial shrub with an upright habit, 3-4 ft. tall and 3-4′ (occasionally 5′) wide. Foliage is comprised of small pale green leaves that are covered with fine gray hairs and have palmately lobed margins. Colorful orange flowers develop along the full length of stems in early to mid spring and intermittently throughout the year.

Desert mallow is the perfect spring flowering perennial for southwestern style gardens. The combination of pale green foliage and intense orange flowers combines well with desert adapted succulents, shrubs and trees. It is well suited for sunny garden locations, adapts to most soils and with low amounts of supplemental water in the summer. A good plant on banks, around boulders and adjacent to walkways and patios.

Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Foliage Character: Winter deciduous
Habit: Upright, Mounding, Clumping
Growth Rate: Fast
Foliage Color: Pale green
Flower Color: Orange
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Rocky soil, Disturbed soil, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Wind, Heat, Frost, Drought, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Rock gardens, Residential spaces, Raised planters, Parks and open space, Hummingbird plant, Grouped, Flowering accent plant, Borders, Banks, Attracts butterflies
Height: 3 ft. – 4 ft.
Width: 3 ft. – 5 ft.