I learned of and started growing this cold hardy edible flower in Denver in 1989 I believe. I was so young then and knew so little about botany...this plant was central to my getting my mind around the wonderfully vast and varied Mallow family. It's relationship to Hollyhocks is readily apparent to northern folks who see it in my gardens. It failed for me here in Tampa my first several winters and springs back home beginning in November 2002, but a few years ago ONE seedling took off and in late spring shed many seeds which now germinate here and there in late autumn....I wonder if that newly discovered aspect of evolution based on environmental influences allowed that one seedling to adapt to Tampa then pass on the genes? I love the flowers nibbled right from the plant or as salad fu-fu, and the tender leaves are tasty raw or cooked. Today I transplanted a seedling into a 1 gallon pot to give to my friend Mary Jo for her girlfriend Robyn who loves to grow flowers in pots. It is a summer annual/weakly perennial in Denver, a VERY cold hardy winter annual here in my south Tampa yard....in my Denver yard it was THE last thing to succumb to hard freezes and snows, and so I loved it as I loathed Denver winters, trapped there by a VERY upside down mortgage for 15 years. But 20/20 hindsight makes very clear I felt and learned and earned a great deal of personal growth there on many levels.
The form sold as 'Zebrina' has an almost white background color with darker stripes and has appeared here spontaneously in a very small percentage of seedlings.
I'd love to see this native of Europe better known and more widely grown. John