How to Grow Poppy Mallow — Callirhoe

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Callirhoe–commonly called poppy mallow–is a perennial native to the prairies and grasslands of North America. Callirhoe bears mallow or poppy-like flower somewhat akin to the hollyhock, its cousin.

Callirhoe are low-growing plants; the showy flowers are inordinately large for the size of the plant. Flowers are visible from a great distance; they are brilliant wine red, rose, pink, and occasionally white.

Callirhoe thrives in hot, dry locations. They are a good choice for a dry site, dry border, or rock garden. They are also well suited to wildflower and native gardens.

Pale Poppy Mallow flower, Callirhoe involucrata
Pale Poppy Mallow flower, Callirhoe involucrata

Get to know Callirhoe

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 4 to 6
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 4
  • Height and width: 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) tall; 2 inches (5 cm) wide.
  • Foliage: Deeply lobed palmate leaves
  • Flowers: Abundant, 5-petaled poppy-shaped blossoms
  • Flower colors: Bright reddish-pink with white throats.
  • Bloom time: All summer
  • Uses: Callirhoe are good for large borders, wildflowers plantings, and rock gardens, and for planting at the top of a slope, and seashore plantings.
  • Garden companions: Lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina), Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis)
  • Common name: Poppy mallow
  • Botanical name: Callirhoe involucrata
  • Family name: Malcaceae
  • Origin: Prairies and grassland of United States and Mexico

Where to plant Callirhoe

  • Plant Callirhoe in full sun.
  • Plant Callirhoe in well-drained, sandy soil.
  • Protect Callirhoe from winter moisture.

Callirhoe uses

  • Callirhoe will thrive in a hot, dry site.
  • Use Callirhoe in a border or rock garden or in a wildflower or native plant garden.

When to plant Callirhoe

  • Sow seed where you want Callirhoe to grow in spring.
  • Set out container-grown plants in spring or autumn.
Callirhoe involucrata, commonly called poppy mallow or winecup
Callirhoe involucrata, commonly called poppy mallow or winecup

Planting and spacing Callirhoe

  • Space Callirhoe 12 inches (30cm) apart.
  • Sow seed 1/8 inch deep in evenly prepared soil where you want it to grow. Callirhoe has a deep tap-root and does not like being transplanted or moved.

How to water and feed Callirhoe

  • Callirhoe have stems that are trailing, and their deep, carrotlike roots can withstand drought conditions.

Callirhoe care

  • Callirhoe grow rapidly, but are sometimes short-lived and in some locations biennial.
  • Callirhoe has a deep tap-root and does not transplant well.

Callirhoe pests and diseases

  • Callirhoe can develop powdery mildew and rust.
  • Callirhoe can develop spider mites and aphids.

Callirhoe propagation

  • Callirhoe seeds will germinat in about 8 to 10 weeks at 65°F (18°C); soak seeds in tepid water overnight before sowing. It is best to sow seeds where you want them to grow.
  • Divide 4-inch (10cm) stem cuttings of Callirhoe in early summer.
  • Root softwood cuttings in early summer.
  • Mature Callirhoe plants are difficult to transplant.

Callirhoe varieties to grow

  • Callirhoe involucrata, wine cups: Sprawling stems bear 2-inch cherry red mallow-like flowers in hot weather; good ground cover in hot, dry summer regions.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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