Great Plants this Month Summer

Kitaibelia vitifolia

Louse Sims

This is another hollyhock relative! Some call it the Russian Hibiscus which could be confusing as it most definitely is not one, but they are both members of the Malvaceae family which includes many favourites of mine – abutilon, anisodontea, althaea, modiolastrum to name but a few.

Kitaibelia vitifolia is a very sturdy, very hardy, tall (to my height here but it can attain 2 metres) herbaceous perennial; great for the back of the border, but that sounds as if I want to banish it – far from it!

Because it’s so undemanding it will probably do well wherever it’s placed, it would not look out of place in one of those bold, exotic style gardens that are so popular now, yet equally at home in a less manicured cottage garden where it will happily rub shoulders with all its neighbours. You couldn’t call it a flimsy plant, it’s upright, robust and very tolerant of aspect and soil. Ours is growing in the shade of a Gleditsia triacanthos.

As its name suggests, it has vine like leaves. The flowers are arresting, cup-shaped with large white petals and these have gaps in between them which allow the green calyces to reveal themselves from behind – an intriguing effect.

Easy to grow from seed, yet so far in our garden has not thrown up any seedlings.

NB Louise has published a beautifully produced book of her plant profiles – A Plant for Each Week of the Year. It costs £9.99 and is for sale in our online shop here.

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By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

3 replies on “Kitaibelia vitifolia”

I grow small rhododendron bushes on a south facing bank. What canI plant to provide ground cover underneath them, please? I have dug up the grass which was difficult to mow round the bushes which are about 1 metre apart. Thank you.

Hello Laura, it’s other Laura here and I have been around all the gang this morning to get some suggestions for you. I think the challenge is that the rhododendrons are evergreen so will cast shade all year round, and as the site is south-facing it will be quite dry – so a bit tricky!
Louise suggestions are a pretty ground cover plant she uses a lot called Pachysandra terminalis or some epimediums (some of which have gorgeous winter foliage too). Caroline reckons Geranium macrorrhizum will grow in this situation and Elaine says there is a very pretty cultivar of this geranium called ‘Ingwersen’s Variety’ which has pretty pink flowers with red stems and scented foliage which is worth seeking out. My go- to plant for dry shade like this is Cyclamen hederifolium – which is just about to come into flower now, then lovely mottled foliage which makes interesting ground cover for weeks. All of these suggestions would spread easily if they were happy . Hope this is helpful Laura

I have a few grown from seed a few years ago. Some is a s facing exotic border with feed +++ some in a Mediterranean sandy no food bed. Tough as old boots … And rather delightful… Like me 😊

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