Sphaeralcea ambigua is known as the Desert Hollyhock for obvious reasons, and it vividly glows for months in the dry garden.
Vivid cups of sunset colour
The silky flower cups of the Desert Hollyhock glow just like the sun setting over the desert.
Bloom colour is most often sunset apricot-peach; but from seed grown plants you can occasionally also get cups of white, pink or lavender.
This is all part of the fun of growing from seed.
Just loves a dry desert climate
Sphaeralcea ambigua loves nothing better than a dry, hot position.
In well drained, sandy or rocky soil with low fertility is even better.
And it does not mind frosts and cold down to about -10C either.
So a truly hardy, desert survivor.
Perfect in pots
But if you have a moist, well watered place, with rich soil and wet winters – forget it unless you can raise it up, in a perfectly drained place, and never feed it. It is indeed a true desert plant.
Pots are the perfect answer for this beauty, unless you live in a desert of course.
Long & constant blooming through spring, summer & autumn
Desert Hollyhock blooms are gifts that just keep on giving.
Because plants produce a constant procession of silky blooms; beginning in spring, continuing all through summer, and right on through autumn.
Blooms are profuse, continuous and borne in showy clusters, providing there is not too much wet of course.
Bushy shape of silver grey foliage covered in desert suns
Sphaeralcea ambigua is the last word in desert elegance and style.
It forms a bushy round ball of silvery-green, furry foliage, covered for months with glowing cup blooms.
And the leaves are also covered with white hairs to help protect them from the heat and beating sunrays.
So the whole shrubby ensemble makes an elegant colour scheme of cool silver-green and warm apricot-peach.
Continuous nectar feast for bees and butterflies
The flower cups of the Desert Hollyhock are rich in nectar and provide a long season of feasting for bees and butterflies. So it is a great plant for attracting pollinators into the garden.
Quick & easy to grow from seed to bloom & easy in the garden
Sphaeralcea ambigua is rarely if ever troubled by pests and diseases and is very low maintenance in the garden.
So just trim it over once a year after blooming (if you can catch it without a flower that is) and this will keep it compact and multi-branched (the more branching, the more flowers to enjoy).
Sphaeralcea ambigua is a shrubby perennial and forms a rounded mound approx. 1m. High x 90cm. Wide.
It is usually reckoned to be a short lived perennial, as it can flower itself to a standstill after a few years.
But this is not a concern, as it is very easy to raise from seed, and can even self-seed in a dry garden if you leave some seed pods on to mature. It is not invasive.
Natural born desert plant
Native to the deserts of Mexico and the south-west of U.S.A.
SEED SOWING ADVICE:
Sow seed of Sphaeralcea ambigua in a punnet indoors winter, spring or autumn / or scatter directly in garden in autumn or late winter-early spring.
Sow indoors for early & quick plants: The seeds of Sphaeralcea ambigua have a hard, protective coating, which must be softened before the seeds can take in moisture.
First soften the hard seed coat
So first give the seeds a gentle rub between 2 pieces of fine sandpaper.
Then drop them into hot water that has been previously been boiled, and then left to slightly cool to a temperature just below boiling (80C is perfect).
Allow them to stand in the cooling water overnight.
Seeds that have sunk overnight are taking on moisture and are ready to sow.
While seeds that are still floating need to have another little sandpaper rub and be soaked again in hot water.
Then sow the soaked seeds in a punnet on the surface of good quality seed raising mix.
Now gently pat the seed to the surface of the mix to ensure good contact and cover with approx 6mm. of grit/sieved mix/sand/or vermiculite.
Then place the sown punnet in a warm, well-lit position (not in direct sunlight).
And continue to keep moist for 2-4 weeks.
Temperatures of 18-22 °C are ideal for rapid and optimum germination.
Some seeds may germinate immediately as this seed are usually quick to germinate. in approx. 14-21 days.
However if the seeds are shy to germinate after 20-30 days, then a period of chilling will aid germination and help to break the natural dromancy of this desert plant.
A pretend winter helps break natural dormancy
So after 2-4 weeks in a warm position, then wrap the moist punnet in cling wrap & place in fridge (not freezer) for 4-6 weeks.
After 4-6 weeks of chilling, remove from fridge, unwrap punnet & return to a warm, well-lit position at 18-22 °C.
Most seedlings should emerge in approx. 30 to 90 days.
But do not discard punnet, as some seedlings may yet come later.
Seed Count: 50 seeds per pack.
(We always aim to exceed the stated seed count and give a generous serve).
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