This is a small genus of about 25 species, but includes more than double this number of cultivars. It is very closely related in appearance and botanically to another genus, Malva. The plants vary from annuals and biennials to perennials and shrubs, providing an interesting range of plants. They are all grown mainly for their flowers. These have an open-funnel or saucer shape, made up of five overlapping or sometimes separate petals. They are mainly pink in colour although white is also common. The flowers always seem to have a clear-cut quality about them, often due to the clarity of the pink. They appear in clusters or singly.
The shrubby forms have become some of the most popular in recent years. These tend not to be very long-lived and can suffer from wind-rock and wet winter conditions, but they are easy to grow from cuttings, so can be perpetuated with little effort. Plant in a fertile, free-draining soil, preferably one that is light. Choose a warm, sunny position. Increase from cuttings taken in spring and early summer. The shrubby plants can be cut hard back each spring to promote new growth and flowering. If left uncut, the flowering is not so prolific but it is earlier.