Prairie Mallow

'Party Girl' Prairie Mallow; aka:
Checker Mallow,
False Mallow,
Dwarf Hollyhock


The flowers of Sidalcea malviflora are sometimes called "Checkers" because they are about the size of a checker game piece, though the name is a stretch since those would be the red pieces, & checkerflowers are mostly shades of pink.

Despite that 'Party Girl' has got to be one of the shittiest cultivar names of any flower, Granny Artemis was attracted to the spring foliage, & took for granted that the flower would be nice too, being generally described as looking like pink hollyhocks but in miniature. 'Party Girl' is more compactly leafed & pinker than the wild form, & it has a white heart.

As a wildflower, the species is native of high coastal meadows, open woodlands, & mesas from Oregon to northern Baja. Each plant forms a foot wide clump of roundish-lobed basal leaves with upright stems having deeply cut leaves topping off as a spike of mallow-flowers.

Prairie MallowIt begins blooming in July. Deadheading prolongs bloom right up to the start of October if not longer. It prefers moist well draining soil in full sun, though it does not do well in hot climates. If the ground completely dries out in summer, it may go premature dormant until the autumn. If this happens, upright stems can be cut back; with water restored, it will have a second flourish of bloom in autumn.

Ideally it is kept consistently moist so that it blooms uninterupted from summer clear through autumn, & only then cut back to the basal clump, which is partially evergreen. It is adaptable to a low maintenance sun-garden though that does mean an interuption in the bloom at the dryest time of year, & perhaps an overall weaker appearance than had it been regularly watered.

The tall flower stems generally do not require staking. It easily self-seeds & may become a little rampant. It's difficult to cut it back before at least part of it has gone to seed, without simultaneously sacrificing some of the blooms, so weeding inevitable seedlings is the only way to keep it down & yet maximize flowering of the parent clumps.

The individual clumps can be somewhat shortlived as perennials go, though an aging clump can usually be revitalized by division. Its ease of self-seeding is a welcome for such shortlived perennials, but note that for 'Party Girl,' any of its seedlings will revert to the wild appearance, paler or not as compact, though still a most pleasant wildflowre.


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