Sparmannia - Malvaceae - Cultivation and care of Sparmannia plants



The Sparmannia they are elegant plants that produce very decorative and lightly perfumed flowers.






: Angiosperms


: Eudicotyledons


: Roside









now included in







: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genre Sparmannia includes mostly shrubby evergreen plants, native to tropical Africa, South Africa and Madagascar. In their places of origin they become real trees while in our climates, they maintain much smaller dimensions.

They are characterized by leaves with small, arranged alternately along the branch, lobed, heart-shaped and sometimes toothed.

The flowers, gathered in terminal umbels, are provided with a pubescent calyx formed by four sepals and with a corolla formed by four white petals with yellow stamens often with a reddish terminal part, very evident. The peculiarity of the stamens is that they open as a result of mechanical stimuli, such as those that can be caused by an insect.

The fruits are globular capsules that each contain numerous fleshy oval-shaped seeds.

The Sparmannia they are plants that can be grown both indoors and outdoors where the climatic conditions allow it.


The genre Sparmannia includes about 7 species of which the most widespread and known is the


ThereAfrican Sparmannia it is a plant that in its country of origin (Cape province in South Africa) reaches even 6 m in height while in apartments it rarely exceeds 2 m.

Note 1

The leaves are large, petiolate, heart-shaped of a beautiful light green color, with finely serrated margins and covered with a dense down.The flowers are white, gathered in umbels, slightly perfumed and carried by long floral stems provided with evident colored stamens reddish-yellow.They have a gradual flowering over time so even if the flowers last only a few days, the plant remains in bloom for several weeks. It blooms in early spring.

There are several cultivars among which we remember the African Sparmannia 'Flore Pleno' characterized by double flowers but which bloom with difficulty in the apartment and the African Sparmannia 'Variegata' with white stained leaves.


They are plants that require fairly cool climates: during the spring - summer period the optimal temperatures are around 16-18 ° C while during the autumn - winter period around 7-10 ° C.

It is preferable that they do not receive direct sun during the hottest hours of the day and the environment in which they are located must have a good air exchange.


There Sparmannia it is watered during the period of active growth (spring-summer) in order to keep the soil always humid while in the autumn-winter period, so as not to let the soil dry up.

They are plants that love humid environments so it is advisable to spray them regularly with water at room temperature during the hottest periods, and place it on a saucer with pebbles where there will always be a trickle of water which, evaporating, will guarantee a humid environment making sure that the water from the saucer does not come into contact with the bottom of the pot.


They are repotted every year in spring as they are plants that grow quickly so that it may be necessary to repot even twice a year. They are not particularly demanding in terms of soil, the important thing is that it is a good fertile soil.

We always recommend using terracotta pots because as they are porous, they allow gaseous exchanges with the environment (and therefore correct any excess watering) and to place pieces of earthenware on the bottom of the pot to facilitate the drainage of irrigation water.


From spring and throughout the summer, a good liquid fertilizer is added to the irrigation water every 10-15 days. During the autumn - winter period the fertilizations must be suspended.

It is advisable to use a fertilizer that in addition to having macroelements such as nitrogen (N), potassium (K), phosphorus (P) also has microelements such as manganese (Mn), Iron (Fe), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), molybdenum (Mo), boron (B), all important for balanced plant growth.

Slightly decrease the doses compared to what is indicated in the fertilizer package.


The Sparmannia they bloom starting from spring and in a gradual manner throughout the period. If temperatures are maintained around 16-18 ° C, flowering will last for a long time.

The flowers last only a few days but it is preferable to leave them on the plant until they are now too ugly to see. Only when all the inflorescence has stopped blooming can the flower stem be cut off.


At the time of repotting or in any case after flowering it is advisable to do both the topping of the vegetative apexes, to have a bushy plant, and a real pruning of the branches that have developed excessively, to have a more compact posture . If this operation is carried out in spring (in March) the cut shoots are excellent cuttings that can be used for the multiplication of the plant.

We always recommend to thoroughly clean and disinfect (preferably over a flame) the tool you use for cutting to avoid infecting the tissues.


The multiplication is done by cutting.


In spring you can take cuttings from the branches, about 10-15 cm long, cut with a razor blade or a sharp knife to avoid fraying the fabrics and taking care that the blade you use is well cleaned and disinfected to avoid infecting the fabrics.

The base of the cutting is treated with a rhizogenic powder to facilitate rooting.The cuttings thus treated are planted in a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts for half their length. -18 ° C, in the shade and in a humid environment.We realize that the cuttings have rooted as there is a resumption of growth with the birth of new shoots at which point they are transplanted into small pots, about 8 cm , using a soil as indicated for adult plants and treating themselves as such

Since they are very fast growing plants, it may be necessary, already after a few months, to provide for a further repotting.


Leaves that wither and hang down

This symptom indicates little watering as well as little light.
Remedies: act accordingly.

The plant does not bloom and has exaggeratedly long branches

This is the classic symptom of low light as a result of which the plant tends to slide out in search of light.
Remedies: move the plant to a brighter position.

Spots on the underside of the leaves

ThereSparmannia it can be infested by cochineal and in particular by mealy cochineal. To locate it, just take a magnifying glass and compare it with the photo on the side: they are characteristics, you can't go wrong. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.

Remedies: they must be eliminated with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol or it can be washed with water and neutral soap by gently rubbing with a soft sponge to remove the parasites, after which the plant must be rinsed very well to remove the soap. For larger plants planted outdoors, specific pesticides can be used.


The name Sparmannia it was given in honor of Anders Sparman (1748-1820) Swedish naturalist, who accompanied James Cook on his second voyage of exploration.

The hairs of the leaves are slightly stinging.

1. Image taken from Sulair - Stanford Historical Society website

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