Plant of the Month – October


Palmer’s Indian Mallow
Abutilon palmeri

  • Plant Form: Shrub, perennial herb
  • Water Use: Extremely low
  • Mature Size: 4-6 ft. tall and 3-5 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Mar – May), Summer (June – Aug), Year-round
  • Native to: Southern California, SW U.S., Northern Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 20°F

This Southern California native plant grows so fast and lush, it’s hard to believe it hails from America’s dry southwest deserts and requires so little water. Its velvety leaves are so soft (think horses’ noses), you’ll want to pet them! Use its interesting, silky-haired fruits in dry flower arrangements, and enjoy its orange flowers most of the year.

Palmer’s Indian Mallow has lush subtropical foliage and fast growth that belies its extreme tolerance for heat, drought, and poor soil. This mallow is a relatively rare native of the American southwest, but its qualities are so prized, it is grown by dozens of nurseries across the West. Soft, velvety, heart-shaped leaves cover this herbaceous plant, forming a silvery backdrop to its golden flowers which are most prolific in spring and summer, but can appear almost year-round. Its multi-parted, silky-haired fruits are used in dry flower arrangements. Although happiest in rocky or sandy well-draining soil with only occasional irrigation under full or reflected sun, it does appreciate light shade in the hottest inland deserts. Cage young plants against rabbit nibbling. After flowering, cut flower stems back to the first set of full leaves for a tidier shape. Protect from hard frosts, and trim back any frost-damaged tips. Place near seating areas or pathways to fully enjoy its soft, touchable texture.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for October