Marshmallow

(Althaea officinalis) Marshmallow is more than just an eye-pleasing ornamental -- it is particularly popular with pollinators and it is edible! It boasts a long history of use in traditional herbalism, and is the origin of the popular confection of the same name. Hardy from zones 3-9 and quick to reseed itself, marshmallow thrives with little maintenance or attention. The blooms are reminiscent of hollyhocks, to which the marshmallow is related. The seeds must be cold stratified 4 to 6 weeks. Place seeds in a plastic bag with moist peat moss or coconut coir and store in the refrigerator for 1 month before planting. Alternatively, you can sow them in late fall for natural stratification. Surface sow and gently press seeds into soil. Ideal germination temperature is 60-75F. Seeds germinate in 14-21 days. Start indoors, and set transplants out after frost, or direct seed in late winter to very early spring. Space plants 18-24 inches apart. The roots can be harvested the second year from planting. Marshmallow plants tolerate many soil types and conditions, but grow best in rich, moist or even wet soil, in full sun. Mature plants may be divided in the autumn.

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