in Tucson, Phoenix,
Arizona and California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California

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Sphaeralcea ambigua: Desert Globemallow

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Form: A plant with a woody base and herbaceous stems.
Lifespan: Perennial.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Rapid.
Mature Size: 3' high and 3' wide.
Flowers: Cup shaped, orange, red, pink, or white, five petals.
Bloom: Nearly year-round in frost-free regions, most heavily in spring, then sporadically rest of year. Spring through fall in regions with freezes.
Fruit: Capsule containing dark seeds.
Leaves: Green to silver-green, hairy, scalloped wavy edges, deeply lobed, often with three lobes, variable.
Stems: No thorns.
Wildlife: Attracts bees. Caterpillar host plant for Painted Lady and other butterfly species.
Toxic / Danger: No, except hairs on leaves may cause eye irritation if they attach to fingers or become airborne.
Origin: California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Mexico.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 6-10.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun.
Water after becoming established: Once a month. Supplemental water improves blooming.
Soil: Well drained, dry, low in organic content, pH 6.6-8.5 (neutral to alkaline).
Prune: Cut back to 6" high, in early fall in frost-free regions, or after last winter frost elsewhere. Wear gloves.
Litter: Low.
Propagation: Seed. Usually reseeds.
Uses: Ornamental, xeric garden.

Four subspecies are recognized. Several commercial varieties are available.

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Sphaeralcea ambigua: Desert Globemallow - rose color flowers

Sphaeralcea ambigua: Desert Globemallow - pink flowers

Sphaeralcea ambigua: Desert Globemallow - orange flowers

Sphaeralcea ambigua: Desert Globemallow plant