En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - September 07, 2010

From: Kerr, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Information about a red-flowered Pavonia lasiopetala in central TX.
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I have grown Pavonia for years and just let it re-seed where it wants (and remove if I don't want it where it falls). This year I created a new 6 inch raised bed amended with compost and some manure (and bone meal since this is to be primarity an iris bed) below the existing pavonias. I left the new plants and they have bloomed beautifully this summer. Here's the question: in the midst of this bed of about 9 pavonias is one pavonia that is a different color - I would call it red. I have checked carefully and it is indeed a separate plant from the others. What caused this? Have I stumbled upon a new hybrid? I have a photo if you care to see it.


Pavonia lasiopetala (Texas swampmallow), most commonly known as Rock Rose, is a native of Texas and Northern Mexico which typically bears pink flowers ranging from soft, baby pink to carmine rose.  The flower color of Rock Rose is usually a very attractive hot pink.  Since this is the only species of Pavonia commonly grown in Central and West Texas, this is probably the plant in your garden.  A red-flowered Rock Rose would indeed be an unusual find.

Many plants bear flowers of colors different from the norm for that species.  White-colored flowers are common on many species that normally bear flowers of other colors.  The causes of color variations can be genetic, nutritional, or a result of pathogenic processes.  Whatever the cause, plant enthusiasts often highly prize plants bearing flowers of a truly new color.

We have not seen a Pavonia lasiopetala with true red flowers.  Such a plant would probably be quite valuable in horticulture.  However, you should first ascertain that your plant is truly a Rock Rose.  There are red-flowered mallows native to Texas that could easily be confused with Rock Rose.  Please see our Plant Identification webpage for complete instructions on how to submit images for ID,


More Shrubs Questions

Weeds in Blue Rug juniper in Phoenix MD
September 28, 2009 - The landscaper planted Blue Rug Junipers around the Helleri Holly and Yews in front of my house ten years ago. The Blue Rug has done great and looks really nice. My problem is that weeds grow up in ...
view the full question and answer

Getting a senna to fill out from Irvine CA
May 30, 2013 - I have a Senna of some kind, started from a seed by a friend. I got it as a small,six in high) seedling. After two years it is now blooming beautifully, but is a single thin stem 4 feet tall with ve...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Esperanza in Houston
July 07, 2009 - Esperanza plant. I have 3 of these plant in my flower bed for the last 10 years. They get west sun. Over the last three years they have bloomed initially but then the new growth is deformed. The best...
view the full question and answer

Soapberry suckers in Austin
July 23, 2011 - Western Soapberry. Cut it down many months ago. Now I have baby trees all over the lawn. Are these the berries or are they coming from roots even though some sprouts are quite a distance away. I pul...
view the full question and answer

Looking for native plants for a rain garden in Arlington, TX.
March 12, 2012 - I am looking for native Texas plants that would do well in rain gardens. Do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center