A native plant with delicate, cup-shaped flowers, the prairie poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata) provides a non-stop show of blooms from summer to frost. Its magenta flowers have five petals with a white eye, and the green foliage has finely cut, palmately divided leaves. With trailing stems and sprawling habit, the prairie poppy mallow is perfect for spilling over walls or planted as a ground cover. Because this mallow has a long tap root, it’s drought-tolerant, but difficult to transplant once established. You can find it naturalized in prairies, roadsides, and open woods in central United States.
Common name: Prairie poppy mallow, purple poppy mallow
Botanical name: Callirhoe involucrata
Plant type: Herbaceous perennial
Height: 6 to 12 inches
Zones: 4 to 8
Family: Malvaceae (Mallow)
Sun: Full sun
Soil: Well-drained, sandy soil
Moisture: Dry to moderate
Mulch: Add a thin layer of mulch around new plants to deter weeds, especially if you plant it as a ground cover.
Fertilizer: None required.
Pruning: Cut spent flowers if you want to discourage self-seeding.
- Because it tolerates drought-like conditions, the prairie poppy mallow fits well in rock gardens and xeriscape gardens.
- Use in wildflower or native gardens; its spreading habit is attractive in these low-maintenance gardens. It naturalizes easily because it readily self-sows.
- Combine with sundrops (Oenothera perennis), Missouri black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia missouriensis), orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida), sea holly (Eryngium x zabelii), and drought-tolerant plants native to your area.
Pests and diseases
- Rust and powdery mildew can occur.
- Poorly drained soil encourages crown rot.
- Aphids and spider mites occasionally attack plants.
- Sow seeds in early spring.
- Take cuttings in early summer.
All in the family
The mallow family includes several annual, biennial, and perennials with showy flowers including common rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos), rose of Sharon (H. syriacus), tropical hibiscus (H. rosa-sinensis), hollyhock (Alcea spp.), hollyhock mallow (Malva alcea), annual mallow (Lavatera trimestris), and flowering maple (Abutilon spp.)
Text by Mary Pestel, photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.