By Ronnie Dauber, Garden Guides Contributor Common Mallow is a fast growing and easy spreading annual weed that establishes itself in areas where there is low to no maintenance such as along culverts, fence lines or property boundary lines. Plants reproduce by seed and it's these seeds that come up in the spring, giving it the classification of a biennial plant. This type of mallow has often been confused with ground ivy because the two share similar characteristics. The clear distinctions between the two are that Common Mallow has rounded stems, not squared, as well as an alternate leaf arrangement, and it does not root where the stems touch the ground as the ivy does.
The Common Mallow is freely branching at the base and lies close to the ground, spreading like an vine. The green leaves are extended on long petioles and are kidney-shaped, toothed and shallowly and are 5 to 9cm long with short hairs on the upper and lower leaf surfaces. The roots are short and straight-taproot. Flowers bloom in single form or in clusters of 2 to 4 in leaf axils with petals that are faded either, pink to white or purple to white. The fruit are capsules that are round and flattened lengthwise. They are composed of several wedge-shaped segments. This mallow is found most commonly in turf grass, landscapes and in nursery crops. The clumps of whorled branches do not root where they touch the ground giving the appearance of an ivy vine.
The Common Mallow grows very quickly in hot, sunny areas but, as well will become strong in partial shade. It has no particular preference to soil type but seems to do well in dry, low maintenance areas.
Cultivation and Care
This weed spreads quickly and gains much territory without any fertilizer or soil maintenance. It does not require regular watering or care and is an extremely low maintenance grower.
Weed Control Techniques
The most effective method of removing Common Mallow is to use a 2 and 3-way combination of post-emergence broadleaf herbicide. It is extremely important that this is applied to the young plants soon after germination. Since this is a persistent plant, increased applications of nitrogen fertilizer along with routine mowing is the most effective way of limiting any future infestations of this common mallow. Another effective way for permanent removal is to hand weed the mallow; but in doing so, the entire tap root must be removed or the plant will regain its strength and grow back.