What is a Spanish Shawl?

Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee
Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

The Spanish shawl plant, also known as pinklady or Dissotis rotundifolia, is a tropical perennial plant often grown as ground cover. It generally needs warm temperatures and, in many regions, can only be grown in a hothouse. This low-growing plant often produces magenta blooms. It typically requires moderate humidity, well-drained, moist soil and full sunlight.

Spanish shawl is native to the Mediterranean region. A tropical, ornamental usually requires temperatures of at least 50 to 75 degrees F (10 to 24 C) to thrive. In colder climates, these plants may be grown indoors or in a hothouse environment.

These plants generally require a moderate level of atmospheric humidity and well-drained soil. They often need a steady supply of water and usually thrive in full sunlight. Gardeners are normally advised to keep soil evenly moist and to use warm, acid-free water to care for these plants, and to fertilize them every two weeks with water-soluble fertilizer.

The Spanish shawl is a low-growing plant, typically growing no more than 6 inches (15 cm) high. The hairy, trailing stems may reach up to 7.9 inches (20 cm) in length. The ovate leaves may be 0.5 inches (1.5 cm) to 2.75 inches (7 cm) long and 0.3 inches (0.8cm) to 1.5 inches (4 cm) wide. Leaves are typically green in color, and may have bristly top and bottom surfaces.

The five-petaled flowers of the Spanish shawl are generally deep pink to magenta in hue. The blooms may be up to 1.5 inches (4 cm) wide. These plants generally begin blooming in late spring. Blooms can remain until mid-autumn.

The Spanish shawl or pinklady can usually be propagated in several ways. Stem cuttings can be used to propagate these tropical ground cover plants. The corms, or bulbous, subterranean stem parts where the plants store their food, can be used to propagate the Spanish shawl. These perennials can also be propagated by dividing and planting their bulbs, rhizomes or tubers.

Propagation is believed best done in the autumn. Plants are often best propagated in a mixture of perlite and peat. During propagation, pots can be covered tightly with plastic to ensure a moist, humid propagation environment within. Plants in the propagation stage should generally be allowed only indirect sunlight. Once new plants have become firmly established, they may generally be re-potted, or transplanted into the ground if the local climate allows.

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