Hollyhock, scientifically known as Alcea rosea, is a tall and majestic flowering plant that produces large, colorful flowers along tall stalks. The flowers come in a wide range of colors, including pink, white, yellow, red, and purple. Hollyhocks have a biennial or short-lived perennial life cycle and can reach heights of 5-8 feet.
Origin: Hollyhock is native to Asia and Europe.
Usage: Hollyhocks are commonly grown for their ornamental value and are a favorite in cottage gardens. They add vertical interest to flower beds, borders, and backdrops. The flowers also attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Interesting facts: Hollyhocks have a long history and have been cultivated for centuries. They are associated with traditional cottage-style gardens and can create a nostalgic and romantic atmosphere.
HOW TO GROW
General requirements: Hollyhocks require some care but are relatively easy to grow.
Temperature and Light: They prefer full sun to partial shade. Hollyhocks thrive in moderate temperatures, with an optimal range of 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C). They can tolerate heat but may require extra water during hot periods.
Soil: Hollyhocks grow best in well-draining soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. They prefer fertile soil enriched with organic matter. If your soil is heavy or clayey, improve drainage by adding compost or well-rotted manure.
Water: Hollyhocks have moderate water needs. Water the plants regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. During hot and dry periods, provide supplemental watering to prevent drought stress. Avoid overhead watering, as it can promote fungal diseases. Water at the base of the plant to keep the foliage dry.
Planting: Start hollyhock seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost date or sow them directly outdoors after the last frost has passed. If starting indoors, transplant the seedlings outdoors when they are around 2-3 inches tall. Space the plants about 18-24 inches apart to allow for proper growth and airflow.
Maintenance: Hollyhocks require regular maintenance to thrive.
Support: As hollyhocks grow tall, they may require staking or support to prevent them from toppling over in strong winds. Install stakes or a trellis early in the season and secure the plant to it as it grows.
Deadheading: Remove spent flowers regularly to encourage continuous blooming and prevent self-seeding. Cut the flower stalks back to the base of the plant or to a side shoot with developing buds.
Pruning: In late fall or early spring, cut back the hollyhock stalks to about 6 inches above the ground. This helps promote new growth and reduces the risk of disease.
Pests and Diseases: Hollyhocks can be susceptible to aphids, rust, and powdery mildew. Monitor the plants regularly and take appropriate action if you notice pest or disease issues. Use organic pest control methods or consult with a local gardening expert for guidance.
HARVESTING AND SEED SAVING
Harvesting: Hollyhocks are primarily grown for their flowers, which can be cut for floral arrangements. Cut the flowers when they are fully open and at their peak. Use sharp scissors or pruners and cut the stem just above a leaf node or bud.
Seed Saving (continued): To collect hollyhock seeds, wait until the seed pods turn brown and feel dry to the touch. Gently remove the seed pods from the plant and place them in a paper bag. Allow the seed pods to dry further in a cool, well-ventilated area for a few weeks. Once dry, gently shake the seed pods to release the seeds. Separate the seeds from any remaining chaff or debris.
Storage: Store the hollyhock seeds in a cool, dry place in labeled envelopes or airtight containers. Be sure to include the date and variety of the seeds on the envelope. Stored properly, hollyhock seeds can remain viable for several years.
- Common name: Hollyhock
- Latin name: Alcea rosea
- Growth habit: Tall, biennial or short-lived perennial
- Life cycle: Biennial or short-lived perennial
- USDA Zones: 3-9
- Seeds per ounce: Approximately 500-1,000 seeds