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Plant of the Month: Turk's Cap

by Master Gardener Alice Marty

Photo Credit: Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0

Turk’s Cap is one of the common names for an old, southern, pass a-long plant, in the Malvaceae family.  It is also known by wax mallow, Turk’s turban, sleeping hibiscus, lady’s teardrop and Scotchman’s purse.  Malvaviscus arboreus drummondi has bright red flowers that never unfold all the way.  They point up and resemble a Turk’s cap or turban.  Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to the 1.25-inch blooms. They are also cultivated in pink or white varieties.

They begin blooming at the beginning of summer, continuing until the first frost.  Being drought tolerant after the first year they can be grown in a variety of conditions preferring light shade in tropical areas and full sun with afternoon shade in more northern areas.   Turks Cap can grow up to 10 feet tall and spread a maximum 5 feet but can easily be trimmed to keep it the size you desire.

Malvaviscus arboreus is adapted to Plant Hardiness Zones 7–12 and grows in a range of soil types, from sandy to limestone.  These shrubs are thought to be from Mexico, but they are native to Texas, Central America, and Northern South America. 

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