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A go-to plant: Lavatera

Lavatera is a go-to plant for me. It is reliable, a fast grower, pretty when it isn’t in bloom, and very pretty when it is in bloom. And best of all, it is in bloom so much of the year! And then the kicker, this is a really waterwise plant that takes all sorts of punishment including bad soil, and just keeps on keeping on. What’s not to love?

I use them most often as large screening shrubs or on hillsides where you want a large pop of color but don’t have easy access (and therefor want looooowwwww maintenance). Don’t be worries if you buy them very small because even a tiny one gallon plant will be four feet tall and wide in six months. They have soft fuzzy leaves shaped like grape leaves, and the fuzziness gives them a delicate grey color. I trim mine back severely every winter in late December to keep them from getting woody, because I prefer them with a softer look, but it is also fine to leave them be and let them reach their full height of about 8 feet.

The photo above is the most common variety: Lavatera maritima or Lavatera bicolor (depending on the nursery you are buying it from). To the right here are two other lovely options, the white/pale pink flowers of Lavatera ‘Barnsley’ and the rich deep pink of L. ‘Red Rum’.

I especially love using these to get an English Garden look without the water!

Sage Outdoor Designs is a San Diego landscape design firm. Kate
Wiseman, the Principal, has been a San Diego landscape designer
for the past ten years. Find out more at