Scientific name: Alcea
Hollyhock is a genus of 60 species of flowering plants native to southwest and central Asia, with many of the species reaching over 8 feet in height! Along with its statuesque height, the hollyhock can be identified by its broad, rounded, hairy leaves and multiple big, showy flowers growing along a single stem. Cultivated flowers are available in shades of red, white, purple, pink and yellow. Flowers will bloom mid summer to early fall.
The hollyhock is the quintessential cottage garden flower. Gardeners love them because they are very drought resistant and do well in full sun. In fact, these flowers will thrive in places that can be too dry or hot for other plants. As well, hollyhocks are easy to grow and will reseed on its own! Just drop the large, coin-shaped seed and let nature do the rest.
Although they are often classified as perennials, hollyhocks are actually biennial flowers, that will bloom during its second year, rather than the first.
Their towering height makes them ideal as background plants in the garden. They would be attractive planted against walls or fences. Just be sure to give them enough space to grow, at least 2 feet of space between plants. But as beautiful as these flowers are, they don’t make good cut flowers, as they wilt quickly once cut.
Climate zones: 3-8
Fun flower facts about the hollyhock:
- Hollyhocks are bland, but they are edible. They can be added to salads or used as an edible garnish.
- Hollyhocks are sometimes called outhouse flowers because they were often planted to hide unsightly outhouses.
- Dolls can be fashioned out of the flowers with fully opened flowers as the skirts, half-opened flowers as the torsos and buds for the heads. The dolls are all held together with a little stick.
- The woody stems can be used as firewood.
- Hollyhock roots have been used in traditional herbal medicine.
- The plant is a source of food for some butterflies, worms and insects.
- Hollyhocks are the 13th wedding anniversary flower.
- In the language of flowers, hollyhock symbolize fruitfulness.
- Former American president, Thomas Jefferson, once bred a variety of hollyhock that was dark red.
- A lotion made from the flowers can heal sunburn and dry skin.
- The hollyhock is related to the hibiscus.
- Cottage and Gardens: Hollyhock Haven (heartseasecottage.typepad.com)