NICE! plant of the season
Cap (Malvaviscus drummondii)
Photo: by Lon Turnbull
Description: Turk’s Cap is a shrubby
perennial that will reach 2-4 feet by the end of the summer: taller in
areas where it receives some sun, shorter when it is in full
shade. In spring, stems with heart-shaped leaves emerge from
the base. The leaves are soft and velvety on the
underside. Turk’s Cap starts to bloom in late
spring and continues until frost. The name
“Turk’s Cap” comes from the bright red
flowers that resemble a Turkish fez. The flowers attract
hummingbirds and butterflies. In the fall, Turk’s
Cap produces little pumpkin-shaped red seed pods that contain a number
of viable seed, eaten by a variety of birds. In our area,
Turk’s Cap dies completely to the ground with the first
freeze and remains dormant until the spring.
Bloom/berry period: Late
May/early June to frost.
Plant in full, dappled, or partial shade. This
plant likes well-drained soil and will grow best in soil that has been
amended with organic matter like compost. Allow 3-5 feet
between plants. After planting, water well and
mulch. The plant will spread slowly –its roots
spread horizontally – and can be dug up and divided after
Watering Instructions: Turk’s Cap
should be watered once every other week until established.
After it is established, Turk’s Cap only needs supplemental
watering during a prolonged drought. Do not over water or it
Comments: This is an interesting and beautiful
ornamental plant for a shade garden. It blooms all summer and
into the fall. In very shady spots it can work as a ground
cover. Turk’s Cap is a hummingbird
magnet. Consider using Turk’s Cap in areas where
you might plant azaleas or other shrubs. Remember that
Turk’s Cap needs much less soil preparation than azaleas do.
Look for the NICE! Plant of the Season signs and information sheets on
your next visit to a participating
North Texas nursery. Thank
you for using native plants in your landscapes.
Written by: Dr. Rebecca Dickstein, Professor of Biology, University of
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Last noted update by
Lon: March 19, 2009.