Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea), with their big and beautiful blooms, are among summer’s tallest and showiest flower, growing up to 6 feet tall in one season! These old-fashioned flowers are cottage garden favourites and are becoming more popular in recent years. Hollyhocks come in a wide range of pretty colours and would be ideal for borders or backgrounds, planted along fences or walls. But you don’t have to go to great heights to get these beauties to bloom.
Here are some gardening tips to getting the most out of your hollyhocks:
- Hollyhocks are biennials, which means they will only produce flowers every other year. They will produce leaves in the first year and flowers the next. But they tend to reseed, producing flowers the next year.
- The easiest way to grow hollyhocks is from seed. Sow seeds directly on soil and cover with a fine layer of top soil. All old-fashioned or heirloom varieties will produce viable seeds that can be collected in the fall. Water regularly until seeds germinate; this should take 2-3 weeks.
- Seeds can be planted in the spring or summer.
- To prevent diseases, give hollyhocks enough air circulation by spacing them out.
- Hollyhocks do best in moist, fertile well-drained soils. Add compost to amend poor soils. Water regularly to keep roots moist.
- They also do best in the sun, giving them at least 6 hours of sunlight.
- Add fertilizer in early spring to give the plants enough nutrients.
- As hollyhocks are tall plants, stake them to protect them from strong winds and extreme weather.
- Deadhead spent flowers to encourage more blooms.
- At the end of the growing season, cut the hollyhocks back to the ground. Cover with a layer of mulch for over-wintering. Remove mulch in the spring to allow plants to bloom.
- Hollyhock rust, which causes bright orange spots on the leaves, can become a problem. Remove and destroy infected foliage. And when the plants stops flowering, cut them back to the base. Provide good air circulation and avoid overhead watering to avoid future outbreaks of disease. Fungicide can also be applied. Repeat applications may be necessary.