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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.

Water Needs

Desert mallow is well suited to Inland Empire gardens in full sun and with low amounts summer water. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months marked by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water depending upon exposure conditions and size.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 2

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"-14"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Foliage Character: Winter deciduous
Habit: Upright, Mounding, Clumping
Growth Rate: Fast
Height: 3 ft. - 4 ft.
Width: 3 ft. - 5 ft.
Water Needs: Low 2
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


After profuse Spring and Summer blooms, eventually the plant will begin to look "tired," with thinning leaves and a leggier appearance. When this happens, cut back hard, as needed, to about six inches high. This can be done in fall, but may also be necessary in mid to late summer after blooms have ended (or mostly ended if the plant needs to be cleaned up for appearance) (S).



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