Plant of the Month for February, 2014

 (kit-ay-BEE-luh  vy-tee-FO-lee-uh)

General Information:

Kitaibelia vitifolia is a large perennial from the former Yugoslavia. This plant won’t steal the garden show but it fills a void in the garden. It is difficult to find 5 foot tall flowering plants that grow in shade. K. vitfolia fits the bill.

Kitaibelia vitifolia; photo by Robert Pavlis

K. vitifolia is is also known as Russian hibiscus, cedar cup and Chalice flower. It starts to flower in late summer and continues until frost, producing a few white malva-type flowers in a continuous fashion. It is unaffected by any pests in my garden.


You probably will not find this rare plant in a nursery, but it is readily available as seed. ORG&HPS has it in their seed exchange most years. Seed germinates quickly, and a well grown seedling can flower the first year. Unlike other Malva plants, this one does not seed around.  

Kitaibelia vitifolia; photo by Robert Pavlis

I grow it at the back of a part-shade boarder and it makes a nice backdrop to other shade loving plants. It looks more like a shrub than a perennial. Some references say it can grow to 10 feet tall, but mine is about 5 feet tall growing under sugar maples. It can take full sun and damp conditions which might allow it to get bigger.


Life Cycle: perennial

Height: 2M (5ft)

Bloom Time: late August to late October

Natural Range: Yugoslavia

Habitat: damp thickets and grasslands

Synonyms:  Malope vitifolia



Light: full sun to full shade

Soil: very adaptable

Water: damp to dry

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5 – 8

Propagation: division, seeds

Seedex availability (ORG&HPS annual Seed Exchange): frequently


Sow @ 20°C. Seed germinates within 3 months.


Requires darkness.


Requires scarification. Nick or rub between sheets of sandpaper. See
Robert Pavlis