Hollyhock vs Mallow: What Are The Differences?

Gardening is a pursuit that rewards patience and curiosity, offering a gateway to a world full of vibrant colors, delicate fragrances, and fascinating life cycles. Whether you’re an experienced green thumb or just starting out, the hollyhock and mallow present interesting, beautiful, and relatively resilient options to enhance your garden.

This guide will explore these two wonderful plants, delving into their differences, the ideal growing conditions, and the array of vibrant colors they offer. Enjoy the journey of cultivating these delightful plants, each with its own unique charm and characteristics.

Hollyhock vs Mallow: What Are The Differences?

Hollyhocks and mallows are both popular garden plants belonging to the Malvaceae family, yet there are distinct differences between the two. Hollyhocks, known scientifically as Alcea, are renowned for their towering stalks that boast flamboyant, disc-like flowers. These flowers bloom in an array of colors ranging from pink and red to white and yellow.

Mallows, on the other hand, typically encompass a broader group of plants which include the common mallow (Malva sylvestris) and the rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos). Generally, mallows are more compact and have a bushier growth habit compared to hollyhocks. Their flowers are also vibrant, but they tend to be smaller and more abundant than those of the hollyhock.

Further, hollyhocks are primarily biennial plants, meaning they complete their lifecycle over two years. Meanwhile, many types of mallow are perennial, coming back year after year. However, this can vary depending on the specific species of mallow.

Which Plant Is Easier To Grow: Hollyhock or Mallow?

Between the two, mallow is generally easier to grow. This plant is less fussy about its growing conditions and can thrive in a range of soils, including both well-drained and clay types. Mallow is also drought-tolerant, meaning it can withstand dry conditions better than hollyhocks.

Hollyhocks, while not overly complicated to grow, do require more care than mallows. They prefer a well-drained, fertile soil and a position with full sun. They can be susceptible to rust, a type of fungal disease, so regular inspections are necessary to keep this problem in check.

Still, both plants can be grown from seeds or transplants, and both appreciate regular watering during their growing season. However, because of their relative resilience and adaptability, mallows might be a better choice for novice gardeners or those with challenging soil conditions.

Are Hollyhock and Mallow Annuals or Perennials?

Hollyhocks are typically biennials, which means they complete their lifecycle over two years. The first year is typically spent growing foliage and storing energy, and in the second year, they flower, set seed, and die. However, under ideal conditions, some hollyhocks may behave more like perennials, coming back for several years.

Mallows, conversely, are generally perennials and return year after year. This includes common mallow and rose mallow, which are some of the most popular varieties. However, there are also annual species of mallow, such as the Malope trifida. Thus, the lifespan of a mallow plant can depend greatly on the specific species.

Do Hollyhock and Mallow Attract Bees and Butterflies?

Yes, both hollyhocks and mallows are excellent plants for attracting bees, butterflies, and other beneficial pollinators to your garden. Their vibrant flowers and sweet nectar are irresistible to these insects, which play a vital role in the process of pollination.

Hollyhocks, with their tall, striking flower stalks, are particularly attractive to hummingbirds as well. These birds are drawn to the tubular, brightly colored flowers, which provide them with a rich source of nectar.

On the other hand, mallows, especially the swamp mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos), are known to attract certain types of butterflies, like the Gray Hairstreak. By planting a mix of hollyhocks and mallows, gardeners can support a diverse range of pollinators.

Which Plant Has More Vibrant Flowers: Hollyhock or Mallow?

The vibrancy of a flower often depends on its color, size, and the overall health of the plant. Both hollyhocks and mallows produce vibrant flowers, but they do so in different ways. Hollyhocks are famous for their large, single or double, disc-like flowers that can reach up to 4 inches in diameter. Their colors span from white, pink, red, and yellow to even nearly black in some cultivars.

Mallows, meanwhile, produce smaller but more abundant flowers. Common mallow has vibrant pink to purple flowers, while rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) can offer large, showy blooms in shades of pink, white, or red. The sheer number of flowers on a mallow plant can create a stunning, vibrant display.

In terms of overall vibrancy, it often comes down to personal preference. Some may prefer the large, show-stopping blooms of the hollyhock, while others might be drawn to the profusion of flowers offered by the mallow.

Can Hollyhock and Mallow Tolerate Hot Temperatures?

Both hollyhocks and mallows can tolerate hot temperatures, making them excellent choices for summer gardens. Hollyhocks prefer full sun and are relatively heat-tolerant, although they do appreciate some afternoon shade in particularly hot climates.

Mallows are similarly heat-tolerant. Species like the common mallow and the rose mallow thrive in full sun to partial shade, and they can withstand high temperatures. However, during periods of extreme heat, both hollyhocks and mallows may require additional watering to help them cope.

It’s important to note that while both plants can handle heat, they do not fare as well in extremely dry conditions. Regular watering, especially during hot, dry spells, can help these plants maintain their health and vibrancy.

What Are The Ideal Growing Conditions For Hollyhock and Mallow?

Hollyhocks thrive in full sun and require well-drained soil to prevent waterlogging. They prefer a slightly alkaline pH, and a fertile soil enriched with organic matter can promote healthier growth. Providing a sheltered spot can also help protect their tall stalks from wind damage.

Mallows also enjoy full sun but can tolerate partial shade. They are not as picky about soil conditions and can grow in a wide range of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils. They prefer a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. Mallows are also drought-resistant, making them an excellent choice for dry or xeriscaped gardens.

While both plants appreciate regular watering, it’s important to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases. Mulching around the base of the plants can help retain soil moisture and keep the roots cool.

How Tall Do Hollyhock and Mallow Typically Grow?

Hollyhocks are known for their tall, slender growth habit. They can reach impressive heights of 6-8 feet, or even taller in some cases. This makes them an excellent choice for adding height and drama to a garden, especially when planted at the back of a border.

Mallows, on the other hand, are typically shorter and bushier. Common mallow, for instance, typically grows to about 3-4 feet tall. The rose mallow can reach up to 5 feet, while the swamp mallow can reach heights of 4-6 feet.

The height of both plants can depend on the growing conditions and the specific cultivar. However, in general, if you’re looking for a tall, stately plant, the hollyhock might be the better choice, while mallows are better suited for providing dense, low to medium height coverage.

Are Hollyhock and Mallow Prone To Any Specific Diseases Or Pests?

Both hollyhocks and mallows can be susceptible to a range of pests and diseases. One common issue for hollyhocks is hollyhock rust, a fungal disease that causes orange-brown spots on the leaves. They can also be targeted by pests like aphids and Japanese beetles.

Mallows are generally more resistant to diseases, but they can still be affected by pests such as aphids and spider mites. Some species of mallow are also susceptible to a disease called leaf spot, which can cause brown or black spots on the leaves.

Regular inspection and good garden hygiene can help prevent these issues. Removing affected leaves, providing good air circulation around the plants, and avoiding overhead watering can all help keep your hollyhocks and mallows healthy.

Can Hollyhock and Mallow Be Grown In Containers?

Yes, both hollyhocks and mallows can be grown in containers, but with certain considerations. Hollyhocks, due to their height, will need a deep container to accommodate their root system. A sturdy container is also recommended to prevent it from toppling over.

Mallows, being generally shorter and bushier, are well-suited to container growing. However, like hollyhocks, they will benefit from a large, deep container. Regular watering is crucial, as containers can dry out faster than garden soil. Also, ensure the container has adequate drainage to prevent waterlogging.

For both plants, a high-quality potting mix is recommended, and they may need additional feeding compared to those grown in the ground. Container-grown plants can be more susceptible to temperature fluctuations, so consider the placement of your containers to protect them from extreme conditions.