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Lavatera is kind of a laid-back hollyhock.

Lavatera is kind of a laid-back hollyhock

Imagine a laid-back hollyhock and you'llhave a pretty good idea of lavatera (more specifically, Lavatera trimestris). Instead of stretching up like a beanpole, lavatera makes a rounded mound; cheerful pink or white flowers open from buds that bear a strong resemblance to the choicest florists' rosebuds.

Lavateras dislike root disturbance oncethey put on a little size, so it is best to plant seeds where they are to grow or to transplant seedlings to individual pots or peat pots when they are still very small. Plant outdoors as soon as possible, or, where late-spring frosts occur, start the seed indoors.

Lavateras require rich, well-drained soilto perform best. To keep plants low and bushy, plant--or thin--to 18 to 24 inches apart. Feed monthly and keep soil moist, but not wet, for prolonged bloom.

A prodigious flower producer, this annualis attractive in borders or as a quick, temporary flowering hedge. "Mont Blanc' has white 3-inch-wide blooms on 21-inch-high mounds of dark green foliage. "Mont Rose' is its equivalent in rose pink. "Silver Cup' has 4-inch-wide pink blooms on a slightly taller (24-inch-high) plant with lighter green leaves.

Seeds for all three are available from ParkSeed Co., Greenwood, S.C. 29647. Thompson & Morgan, Box 1308, Jackson, N.J. 08527, sells "Mont Blanc', "Silver Cup', and a taller 3- to 4-foot variety, "Loveliness'. Both have free catalogs.

Photo: From tightly furled buds (top and bottom), "Silver Cup' opens in summer to pink, heavily veined flowers
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Date:May 1, 1987
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