General gardening topics

Growing lavatera – Planting, Care, Feeding and More

Last updated on March 29th, 2022

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Lavatera is an easy to grow, upright shrubby plant that is known for not just the attractive foliage but for the large display of flowers. These flowers can be a bright white such as that on Lavatera trimestris ‘Mont Blanc’ or a deep rose/purple like those on the Lavatera ‘Burgundy Wine’, or anything in between like the Lavatera maritima with its white flowers with purple and green towards the centre. Flowers usually manifest from the middle of summer until the first frost so will often flower well into September. Native to the Mediterranean, this plant is quite easy to grow and you can get both vigorous large varieties as well as dwarf varieties such as the ‘Baby Barnsley’. 

Thankfully it is fairly pest and disease resistant and does a good job at attracting many beneficial insects to your gardens such as bees and butterflies. These flowers cope with any salty weather or poor soil conditions so also make excellent coastal plants. You can find annual or shrub varieties depending on your gardening needs, but the hardy shrub varieties are the most popular.

Due to how quickly they grow and how prolifically they flower in the second year, the shrub varieties are great for adding colour in a short amount of time, no matter the garden they are planted in. Of course, you have to consider the size and space you have available because these shrubs tend to need a lot more space than the smaller annuals. Most hardy shrub varieties will reach a height between 1 and 2 metres with a spread the same, which is why they do well mixed into the back of a border with other perennial plants and smaller shrubs planted towards the front.

planting Lavatera. Plant in any well-drained soil in a sheltered area

A relatively hardy plant they respond well to hard pruning come spring and will bounce right back again healthier than ever. If you live in a very cold area, you would do well to plant the Lavatera against a wall so that they get some protection from severe weather as they prefer a sheltered site and can struggle in very cold open sites.

Planting Lavatera

Planting hardy Lavatera

Even with the hardy varieties, when it comes to planting, it’s best you wait to plant outside until any threat of frost is over. If you have purchased plants from a nursery or garden centre, it’s better to get them planted as soon as possible so we recommend buying them in spring and planting them straight away. Anytime after April is ideal but if you have a more tender Lavatera then its best to wait until May once the risk of frost of passed.

Sowing Lavatera seeds

If you are planting seeds to grow varieties such as Lavatera trimestris, this is an economical way to fill borders, you can place them in the ground about 50cm apart as soon as the risk of hard frost is over and they will germinate in about 20 days depending on when they are sown. Seeds can be sown between March and May and will usually flower through summer.

Planting cuttings or very young plants

If you are planting using cuttings the same is true of spacing and simply place them outside once the danger of frost is over, which is usually around May in most parts of the UK.

Lavatera Care

Lavatera care. Dead head flowers and water in times of dry weather

Planting position

Lavatera is quite easy to grow and you will find that it is tolerant of many conditions. These plants do well in smaller cottage gardens or along coastal gardens. Because of how quickly they grow many people prefer to use them as fillers, filling in any gaps in a garden and helping it to look established much faster. However, the hardy shrub varieties can be planted to fill in large gaps with just a single plant. The fast growth along with these flowers make wonderful value and you can, of course, propagate successful plants once you have cared for them for a year so that you can enjoy them time and time again by taking cuttings.

Grows well in most soil types as long as it is well-drained

Lavatera grows best in well-drained soil but beyond that, it’s quite tolerant of any type of soil, even poor soil. The plants are tolerant of salt as well which is why they thrive in coastal gardens. No matter where they are planted they will thrive and produce the biggest and brightest flowers if they are planted in full sunlight, however, they can tolerate partial shade if you don’t have any areas in your garden with access to full sun.

How to prune lavatera. Prune back as far as needed or back to 1-2ft tall in spring


Pruning should happen between the beginning and middle of spring as soon as any danger of frost is over. This is a very simple process and these plants respond well to hard pruning so don’t be too concerned about pruning them too much. When you prune your plants at this point will have new shoots growing out from the base and these are the shoots on which flowers will mostly appear.

That means the other wood you see can be cut back at this point. Doing so will rejuvenate the plant and prevent the existing stems from getting too woody and falling under the weight of the flowers which is a common problem. Cutting back your plants regularly will promote better growth, new shoots, and more flowers.

How to prune

In order to prune your Lavatera make sure that you have the sharpest pair of gardening shears that have been properly sanitised, and begin cutting all of the stems that fall under the appropriate category back to about 30cm off the ground. If you have very thick stems you might need a pruning saw or loppers and if you notice any weak or brittle stems remove them immediately to ground level because they will likely not be very productive and only cause problems further down the line.

Read our detailed guide on pruning Lavatera here.

Watering and Feeding

Hardy Lavatera will cope well with any weather, including dry weather, but if you have a series of droughts in your area you will do well to add some water to help the plant get through the dry spell. If you notice that the soil had become too dry obviously give it some extra water, something you will notice when the flowers start to drop.

water and feeding lavatera. water during dry spells and feed to a general fertiliser during the growing season


In terms of feeding when the plant is growing you should give it an all-purpose fertiliser once a month. You might want to be careful not to over-fertilise because if you add too much food to your Lavatera it will encourage abundant leaves but very few flowers.


As mentioned there are many ways that you can propagate, the easiest of which is using seeds to sow directly into the garden between March or March or by taking cuttings. 

Lavatera - sowing seeds and taking cutting

Sow seeds outside during April and May or indoors to start them off a little sooner

You can take the seeds from your Lavatera by storing them over winter and planting in spring or by buying them. Plant them directly into the soil where you want them to grow. These plants have a very long root system so it’s not good to transplant them multiple times. Put the seeds directly into the ground once any danger of hard frost is over which is usually around March / April.

If you have multiple plants space them approximately 50cm apart. In about 20 days they should germinate but be patient because they can take longer depending on the ground temperature. Alternatively, you can plant the seeds indoors a little bit earlier to give them some extra time. You can put them in a peat pot with three or four seeds per pot. After the seedlings have reached 10cm in height you can take them outside for a little bit at a time every day to harden them off and then plant them outside, being careful to avoid disturbing the roots.

Taking Lavatera cuttings

If you don’t want to use seeds you can always take softwood cuttings. Softwood cuttings should be pliable and taken in the spring or summer. When you look at your Lavatera plants choose healthy stems that are just beginning to turn woody. With a sharp knife or gardening shears, make a cut just below a pair of leaves into the new wood. The total cutting should be about 7.5cm to 15cm in length. Remove any of the leaves from the lower half of your cutting and any flower buds. Lightly dip the cut base in rooting powder to help expedite the creation of a rooting system and reduce rot.

Take a small pot (such as a 9cm size pot) and fill it with seed and cutting compost that has been mixed with a little grit to improve drainage, and put one cutting per pot, placing it directly into the centre and watering it lightly. You want to cover the cutting with some form of plastic be it in a plastic bag, plastic cup if it is large enough, or place it into a propagator with a cover. Whatever you use secure it over the pot, be sure the plastic is not touching the cutting directly.

Position all of the cuttings in a sunny but sheltered area that doesn’t get direct sunlight and if you notice they are beginning to dry out give them quick water. In the span of one or two months, you should have new growth from the top and roots substantial enough at the bottom that you can take them out and put them in the garden the following spring.

Lavatera Pests and Diseases

Lavatera problem. Pests and diseases

Red spider mites

In terms of pests, the Lavatera is rarely bothered, however, there are still some pests that can cause a bit of damage. The first of these are spider mites and you will probably notice the small webs from the spider mite before you notice the spider mite itself. These suck the sap out of the young stems and leaves so the leaves end up looking yellow and deformed.

Spray each of the leaves with water to knock the mites off, however, if there is a severe infestation you can use insecticidal soap or pesticides. You can always go to the natural root and let loose a variety of ladybirds to eat the spider mites before they have secured their webs and damaged your plant.


Another pest similar to this is the aphids which also suck the sap out of your plant. Like spider mites, aphids will not critically endanger the plants but they do cause distorted growth. You can treat them in much the same way, washing them off or using a pesticide to kill them.


Hollyhock rust

As far as diseases are concerned, Hollyhock Rust can happen if things get too damp. This is a type of fungus that won’t be fatal but it will turn the foliage yellow and your leaves will drop off. You will start to see yellow spots on top of your leaves, likely in the spring or autumn if the weather is damp. Keep the area free from any weeds, remove any dead matter that falls to the ground, and be cautious about when you water so that the moisture has a chance to evaporate off the foliage.

All of these measures will help to prevent Hollyhock Rust. If necessary you might have to thin out your Lavatera so that it can enjoy better air circulation. When you notice this type of infection, wait until it finishes flowering and then prune away any infected leaves and stalks. Prune it back hard come spring so that it can rejuvenate itself without this fungal infection. 

Our Favourite Lavateras

There are many different varieties of Lavateras and these are divided into categories of annuals and shrubs. The annual varieties need to be grown and will flower in the same year and they typically die once the first frost happens. Shrubs will last for several years and if left to their own devices can grow into the form of large shrubs. Shrubs benefit of course from heavy pruning in the spring in order to encourage more growth.


Annual varieties produce blooms that look like Hollyhocks. Many of these flowers can reach up to 10cm wide and you can get beautiful varieties with multiple colours and contrasting veining, rich ruby red and even white. The Lavatera trimestris is one of the most widely grown of annuals. This can reach up to half a metre in height. Within this variety, you can find the pure white, ‘Mont Blanc’ plant.

You can also enjoy ‘Pink Beauty’ if you prefer light pink flowers. For those who want a deeper pink, the plant ‘Silver Cup’ is best. For a richer cherry colour, the ‘Ruby Regis’ is the plant to choose. It’s a good idea to leave a few flowers to go to seed so you can sow them in spring.

Lavatera Mont Blanc

These varieties bloom from July until autumn and they are a wonderful way to fill in gaps in your garden if you need extra colour later in the season. You can also cut the flower spikes and bring them indoors for beautiful interior arrangements.


Shrub varieties are typically referred to as tree mallows. These are shrubby plants that grow very quickly and are great to add to the back of your flowerbeds for the height and colour they provide or alternatively integrate them into a garden border. They will flower profusely from the second year onwards.

lavatera Maritima

Some of the most popular varieties include the Lavatera ‘Maritima’ which is a very fast-growing plant that can reach up to 2.5 metres in height and a spread of 3.5 metres. The flowers it produces are large, white in colour with deep pink centres. The leaves and the stems have a very soft hue of grey-green. This species is one of the most rugged you will find and can tolerate conditions down to -8°C which makes them great for coastal gardens.

lavatera thuringiaca - perennial lavatera

The Lavatera thuringiaca is a widely grown variety with flowers that range from pale pink to rich pink. These might be shrubby in their appearance but they can reach a height of up to 1.8 metres. These perennials die back all the way to the ground every winter but they come right back again in the spring. 

The Lavatera x clementii ‘Barnsley’ is perfect for cottage gardens. This plant reaches a maximum spread and height of 2 metres. The flowers are similar to that of a Hollyhock and will be present from June through September. The flowers are of particular note because you can find them with white and a red centre that change to a pale pink once they reach maturity.

The Lavatera ‘Barnsley Baby’ is a compact variety that is perfect for smaller gardens. Taking on all the charm of the variety above, this one only reaches a maximum height of 75cm, which also makes them a good choice for containers and pots.

The Lavatera x clementii Rosea is known for the abundance of pink flowers mixed with soft felt-like leaves that provide colour from June through September.

Overall, you have many varieties to choose from, each of which will work in all soil types. Maintenance is simple, pests are limited, and propagation is fairly easy.

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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