If you buy just one plant this year, make it this one, says David Domoney

According to the celebrity gardener, the African mallow is a must-have

African mallow and cactus
(Image credit: Alamy)

David Domoney has revealed the one plant he recommends adding to your garden. If you buy 'just one plant' this year, the gardening expert says you should try the Aisodontea 'El Rayo'.

Although gardening becomes more difficult in the darker months, you can still create something colorful and uplifting to look out on. And as well as trying out new plants like this one, there are lots of Black Friday garden deals to inspire you to spend more time outdoors.

pink African mallow flower on stem surrounded by green leaves

(Image credit: Alamy)

Anisodontea 'El Rayo' (also known as African mallow)

David has only good things to say about this tender shrub. The African mallow (botanical name Anisodontea 'El Rayo') is an evergreen plant native to South Africa.

'If you buy just one plant this year, I’d urge it to be this evergreen shrub,' writes David Domoney on his blog. 'Friends of mine have it growing in their garden and it’s smothered in flowers all year round!

With trumpet-shaped, five-petaled pink blooms, it flowers in summer and autumn. It was even given the Award of Garden Merit as an ornamental by the Royal Horticultural Society last year.

broadcaster and gardener David Domoney

Broadcaster and gardener David Domoney

(Image credit: Alamy)

He says that if you enjoy having pretty pink flowers growing on light airy stems, this is definitely the plant for you. They'd look great either in borders or as part of your container gardening ideas.

'You want to plant the cape mallow in the spring after the last freeze,' says professional gardener Emilly Barbosa Fernandes from House Grail 'Although if their roots are bare, you should plant them in the fall instead.

'They love the full sun but will do well with light shade also,' says Emily. She recommends growing them in well-drained soil with a medium moisture amount.

pink African mallow flowers

(Image credit: Alamy)

They can also reach around 1.5 meters in height. We think they look a little like hollyhocks thanks to their height and lovely raspberry red blooms. 

So African mallows could also work brilliantly alongside other traditional cottage garden ideas or perhaps in a Mediterranean garden. If temperatures fall below freezing in your area, you'll need to bring them inside in winter.

Grow them in garden planters to make bringing them in easier, and make sure you put it in a cool spot with plenty of light.

Millie Hurst
News Writer

Millie Hurst has worked in digital journalism for five years, having previously worked as a Senior SEO Editor at News UK both in London and New York. She joined the Future team in early 2021, working across several brands, including Gardeningetc. Now, she is Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home, taking care of evergreen articles aimed at inspiring people to make the most of their homes and outdoor spaces.