Perennials & Ornamental Grasses

Musk Mallow 'Alba' - planting, care and pruning


If you want to beautify your garden with a pleasant smelling plant, the musk mallow 'Alba' is the best choice. It is easy to care for and easy to grow.

© Jolanta Mayerberg -

The musk mallow 'Alba', which has the Latin / botanical name Malva moschata 'Alba', is a traditional medicinal plant that hobby gardeners know how to enchant with their pure white and sometimes with their pink flowers. Whether on insect or bee pastures, the attractive fragrant plant comes into its own very well. If you want to beautify your garden with this pleasant-smelling plant, you can obtain a lot of useful information from maintenance to successful wintering of the plant.

Fact sheet about the musk mallow 'Alba'

The musk mallow 'Alba' is also known under the names Abelmoschus, musk mallow and Indian hibiscus mallow. As the name suggests, it belongs to the mallow family. The herbaceous plant grows to heights between 20 and 60 centimeters and each inflorescence has one to three flowers, which are said to have a musky smell. The flowers have either a white or a white-pink color and are approximately 2 to 2.5 centimeters in size. The plant, which blooms around June to October, reproduces through insect or self-pollination.

Musk mallow 'Alba' (Malva moschata 'Alba')
Flower color:White
Bloom:June - September
Height:50-60 cm
Spread:50-60 cm
Ground:dry to fresh, well-drained, nutritious
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The musk mallow 'Alba' is quite widespread in Europe. In the Allgäu Alps it can be found in the wild even at heights of 1,350 meters. The musk mallow can also be found on vineyards and on farm bikes. Since the plant is unprotected not only in Germany, but also internationally, it can be picked along the way for a fresh bouquet of wildflowers.

Especially in the Mediterranean, this mallow has been used as a medicinal plant since ancient times. At the time, it was almost considered a kind of universal remedy. Even dairy cattle were fed the musk mallow in order to stimulate milk production and thus gain a greater yield.

Medicinal properties of the musk mallow 'Alba'

The musk mallow 'Alba' is said to have an expectorant and anti-inflammatory effect, which the plant can develop, for example, in the treatment of cough. But the following areas of application are also conceivable:

  • for the treatment of age spots
  • as a laxative
  • with angina
  • for intestinal inflammation
  • for the treatment of various women's ailments
  • for sore throat
  • in wounds
  • for the treatment of stomach inflammation

In addition to the soothing and wound healing effects, the musk mallow is also said to have the following healing effects:

  • expectorant
  • palliative
  • hustenstillend
  • diuretic
  • astringent
  • milchsekretionsanregend

In order to use the musk mallow as a medicinal plant, you can collect the young shoots in spring and summer. The flowering herb and flowers, on the other hand, can only be gathered very well in summer, while autumn is ideal for collecting the seeds and removing the roots.

You can, for example, prepare the dried musk mallow herb as a tea. This tea is ideal for the treatment of cough and gastrointestinal irritation. If the throat and mouth become inflamed, you can also use the tea made from the plant components of the musk mallow to gargle. You can also use the traditional medicinal plant in the following ways:

  • as vegetables (preparation of leaves like spinach as a healthy, tasty side dish)
  • for envelopes made from vegetable pulp
  • as an ointment (cook the herb in butter)
  • as root stock

Especially in the Arab world, chicken soup, which is seasoned with the leaves of the musk mallow, is still served regularly. The musk mallow seed pods can even be pickled if necessary. However, they should not be ready for this yet. Then the inserted mallow capsules can be consumed like a kind of capers.

The perfect location for the musk mallow 'Alba'

The musk mallow doesn't like salt or heavy metals. Therefore, the soil for this plant should be as rich in nutrients as possible and at the same time not too dry. Soils that are too damp are also not desirable. However, a lot of direct light ensures that the musk mallow grows very well. If the soil is as low in lime as possible, the musk mallow welcomes this as well. A sandy, well drained soil is ideal.

Maintain the correct planting distance

The perennial is characterized by a bushy branched, clumpy and upright growth and can reach a growth width of 50 to 60 centimeters. While the plant can be planted in your own garden from spring to autumn, it is essential to maintain the correct planting distance. This corresponds to the growth width of the plant and therefore amounts to 50 to 60 centimeters. This in turn means that between three and five musk mallows can be planted on an area of ​​one square meter.

In addition, the musk mallow is a rather delicate herb. Especially in very pronounced winds, it can happen that some parts of the plant snap. To avoid this, the plant is very grateful if you provide it with appropriate supports that promise additional support. Alternatively, you can of course plant the musk mallow in a place that is sufficiently protected from the wind and at the same time sunny.

Which plants does the musk mallow 'Alba' do well?

Musk mallow combined with blue delphinium © ksi - The musk mallow 'Alba' is not only an easy-care plant, but also goes very well with many other plants. It harmonizes particularly well with the following plants in an attractively designed garden bed:

  • delphinium
  • Liatris
  • coneflower
  • rose
  • mullein
  • Phlox
  • peony
  • hollyhock
  • various magnificent perennials
  • Evening primrose
  • evergreen
  • grasses

The musk mallow 'Alba' thus fits to a wide variety of garden types, whereby it comes into its own in a near-natural garden, but also in a farm garden and in a herb garden. Not only in a dreamy romantic garden, but also in the following gardens as well as in the following locations, the plant is outstanding:

  • Cottage garden
  • gravel garden
  • Mediterranean garden
  • Steppe and prairie garden
  • Woody edges with enough sun
  • on a flower meadow
  • in the flower or perennial bed

How to properly care for the musk mallow 'Alba'

© olyasolodenko -

❍ casting:

The summer flower should not dry out if possible and should therefore be watered at regular intervals. This is especially true when there are long periods of drought in summer. However, you must absolutely avoid excessive moisture in the same breath, otherwise waterlogging in the musk mallow 'Alba' could cause considerable damage. It is best to water the crop in the morning or evening.

❍ Fertilize:

However, it is not necessary to fertilize the musk mallow 'Alba' at regular intervals. Rather, it is sufficient if you fertilize the plant once at the beginning of its growing season. It is best to use compost or a liquid complete fertilizer from specialist dealers.

However, if you plant the musk mallow 'Alba' in a pot, regular fertilization is even a must. A liquid fertilizer that is especially suitable for flowering plants is best, for example, to supply this mallow species with all the important nutrients.

❍ Cut back:

With the musk mallow, no regular pruning is necessary. However, you should make sure that shoots that have already faded are removed immediately. Only then will the plant be stimulated to produce new flowers, so that the flowering time will be extended overall. If you want the plant to seed itself, it is better not to remove some of the old shoots.

If you want to make a top-cut for purely aesthetic reasons, it is best to do this in autumn. If the plant is facing a very hard winter, however, it makes sense if the topiary is not made until the coming spring. This helps the plant to survive the winter better, as the drooping leaves protect the rest of the plant from possible frost. You should not shorten the musk mallow by more than a third when you are shaping.

❍ Wintering:

The musk mallow 'Alba' is an extremely hardy plant. So no further measures are required to bring the herbaceous, pleasantly fragrant plant safely over the winter. Only the topiary should not be done in autumn in hard winters, as already mentioned. If bald frost is to be expected, you can coat the musk mallow with pine twigs if necessary.

Combat pests and diseases:

Mallow rust is a major problem for the musk mallow. This can be recognized by the brown spots that are clearly visible on the leaves of the plant. Unfortunately, mallow rust is very contagious and therefore spreads quickly. If there is an infestation, you should cut back the affected parts of the musk mallow immediately and dispose of them so that the infestation cannot spread to the other components of the plant. Treating the plant with a horsetail broth is also conceivable. Here is a guide on how to make a horsetail broth yourself. Find out here how you can prevent mallow rust.

This is how the musk mallow 'Alba' can be propagated

The musk mallow is a plant that reproduces itself very reliably. This is done with the help of the seeds of the plant. If you do not want to self-sow, you can also cut off the inflorescences and harvest the seeds. So you can look the plant right where you would like to have it later. You can sow the seeds under glass next spring. However, if you want direct sowing in the bed, you should wait until April. In summer you can also take cuttings to propagate the musk mallow.