Musk mallow is a perennial plant that is part of the Malvaceae plant family. It is native to Europe and was later introduced to North America. The musk mallow features an erect stem and pink flowers. It is commonly grown in flower beds or pots. This plant is prone to leaf spot and rust, both of which are fungal diseases.
Scientifically, musk mallow is known as Malva moschata. There are several varieties of this species including alba and appleblossom, and varieties differ in flower color from the main species. Alba, for example, produces flowers that are white, while the appleblossom variety has a light pink flower.
The musk mallow grows in the northwestern and northeastern corners of the U.S. and Canada. It is considered a weed and is typically found along roadsides or railroads. The plant also grows in dry, grassy fields and old gardens.
Generally, the musk mallow reaches a height of 3 feet (1 m) and spreads about 20 inches (50 cm). The leaves differ in appearance depending on where they are located. At the base of the stem, the leaves are rounded, while leaves closer to the top of the stem are divided into several toothed sections. The leaves are green throughout the year and they emit a musky smell when crushed.
The flowers consist of five pink petals that are arranged like a saucer. Each petal is triangular, and the entire flower is about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. They usually form in clusters at the end of long flower stalks. If the flower is attached to the stem at the leaf node, then it will appear singly. The flowers usually bloom from June to September.
Musk mallow is propagated by seeds. If introduced to a new area, the plant becomes invasive and can overwhelm local plants. It is generally recommended to mow the plants before the seeds ripen to avoid overgrowth.
When growing the musk mallow for ornamental value, it is also recommended to plant it in well-draining soil. It can tolerate a variety of soil types including sandy, loamy, and clay. The pH of the soil can also vary since the musk mallow can thrive in both acidic and alkaline conditions.
Some problems to watch out for include leaf spot, which is identified by brown or black spots on the leaves. Rust is another issue which affects this plant and causes orange blotches on the leaves. Both are caused by a fungus, and both infections can be reduced by applying fungicides.