Lavateras are annual plants that require little maintenance and are ideal for any outdoor space. Here are some quick tips to help you select and grow a healthy lavatera.
What you need to know about lavateras
- When summer begins to heat up, lavatera starts to glow with luminous pink or white, cup-shaped blossoms that continue day after day for the duration of the season.
- Closely related to hibiscus, lavatera has flowers with a similar shape and the same impact, but packs its punch into compact, 30-centimetre-tall to 90-centimetre-tall (12-inch-tall to 36-inch-tall) plants, each with a 75 centimetre (30 inch) spread, causing these annuals to look more like a stalwart perennial or mini shrub. Individual blossoms are short-lived, but lavateras make up for that by generating new blossoms all summer.
- Grown in groups of three or more plants, lavateras will form a lush mound or uniform hedge-like edging for a sunny flower bed or walkway. The most challenging part of growing care-free lavateras is remembering to sow the seeds, because this is one flower that transplants so poorly that it is seldom sold in six-packs. You should sow seeds where you want the plants to spend the rest of the summer.
Expert tips for selecting seeds
There are a number of very beautiful varieties of lavateras.
- High on the list is ‘Silver Cup’, with its bright, shiny, rose-pink flowers that often span 10 centimetres (four inches) across.
- ‘Mont Blanc’ bears equally large, white flowers on 60-centimetre-tall (25-inch-tall) plants.
- ‘Ruby Regis’ sports flowers nine centimetres (3.5 inches) in diameter, with vibrant cerise pink petals like glowing satin.
- ‘Dwarf White Cherub’ is a newer variety bearing snow white flowers that almost cover the 30 to 35 centimetre (12 to 14 inch) plants.
- ‘Parade Mix’ offers similar flowers but with the widest range of colours, from deep rose to nearly white.
Growing healthy lavatera
Success is easy with lavateras if their few needs are met.
- Sow the seeds on loose, friable soil. Incorporate compost, bagged humus, or another form of organic matter before attempting to grow lavateras in heavy clay soil. Sandy or loamy, well-drained soils need little more than a half-strength application of a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 formulation, at the time of sowing.
- Sow seeds in a sunny site about two weeks before your last frost is expected, and barely cover the seeds with soil.
- Thin seedlings to 50 centimetres (20 inches) apart when they are five centimetres (two inches) tall.
- Seeds also may be started indoors in individual peat pots containing moist soil.
- Barely cover the seeds with soil, keep the soil moist and transplant outdoors when the seedlings are only three to four weeks old, planting them in their peat pots.
- Once lavatera plants are up and growing, they require little.
- Clip off faded blossoms once a week.
- In midsummer, apply a soluble, all-purpose fertilizer according to package directions to keep plants blooming steadily until fall.
- Water deeply if they wilt during a drought.
- Prolonged wet, humid weather can create conditions conducive to hollyhock rust, evidenced by cinnamon- coloured fungal deposits on leaves. Remove and dispose of any disfigured leaves, and pull out severely affected plants.
- Leaf-chewing Japanese beetles can also be a problem. Pick and dispose of them early in the morning when they are sluggish, or use insecticidal soap according to package directions. You may need to spray again if they reappear.
Lavatera plants are beautiful additions to any garden. Keep these tips in mind, and choose one of these low-maintenance plants today!