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tiny seedlings
fence line
micro climate
Easy To Grow - Hollyhocks
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Easy To Grow  -  Hollyhocks

Not particularly fussy, hollyhocks grow well in this high altitude micro-climate. You can start from seed or plant. When I first moved to my current home, I brought tiny seedlings with me from my other home. At the time, there was zero landscaping on this property. I now have a literal forest of hollyhocks, all from those tiny plants and their progeny, plus a few seeds I ordered for variety in color.

Description: Hollyhocks have large, 3 to 5 inch flowers on tall stalks and come in colors of pink, white, red, purple and yellow. The colors are vibrant. They flower mid-season; in the High Sierra that is approximately July and August. The leaves are large. Stalks can grow up to 9 feet or more.

Propagation: The plants create many seeds which will drop to the ground and start new plants unless the seed pods are picked before they burst. Deheading blooms when faded will also help control the seed drop. Basically the seeds only need a tiny bit of soil, if any, to cover them. The problem is not getting too many hollyhocks, as you may not want a forest of them. Time of planting has not seemed to be important in my yard. I have planted when still quite cold in what is considered spring in milder climates to mid fall -- and most of my seeds have germinated and survived.

In mid summer two years ago, I planted an envelope of seeds (gathered the previous year) along a 50 foot fence line. That fence is now lined with tall, full hollyhock plants ready to bloom in a couple of weeks. They have almost reached the six foot fence height. I have done nothing but water, not even nourishing or weeding; not intentionally, but just because there is so much yard to take care of and I have not made it to that area yet. Some of the fence line is in shade under a large pine tree, some is in sun, but all the plants are approximately the same size. The horticulturists do say to plant them in full sun and to give a rich well-drained soil environment.

Care: According to horticultural books, hollyhocks are subject to leaf rust. I have not had this problem or seen it here in this environment. The suggested remedy is to ground water, keeping the leaves dry, and remove any leaves with rust; also giving each plant space so that air can freely move around it. I do thin and space my plants, and if they are shading other plants I will sometimes cut back the leaves to allow light to the other plants. Aphids and cutworms are another pest that hollyhocks can be susceptible to. Again, here in the Sierra, earwigs are my main problem and certainly do eat the hollyhock leaves. I have seen an occasional aphid, but no cutworms so far as I can tell.

Hollyhocks look lovely in the old-fashioned cottage style garden, at the back of a border or on a fence. I have used one or two as a “statement” or “specimen” planting, and they certainly catch the eye and cause comment. They die back to the ground in the High Sierra when the cold weather starts - sometime in October or November. I usually cut them back when they are done blooming, as there is nothing very attractive about the dead stalks.

There is a lot to read about hollyhock types if you are interested. There are two types, biennial and perennial, but since hollyhocks reseed, it is hard to tell the difference. One flowers slightly earlier than the other. Hollyhock mallow (common name), the perennial one, is very hardy and I believe is the one that I have. The plain (common name) hollyhock is biennial and is apparently less hardy and has a slightly later flowering time. To add to the confusion, in mild climates it can be a perennial. In the High Sierra, flowering time is dependent on when the snow has ended and plants can start growing, so I don’t know if these guidelines apply here. If you choose to buy seed or plants from growers or nurseries, there are a number of hollyhock colors and flowers to choose from. Also, the hollyhock plant is supposedly short-lived, with a lifespan of only two to three years. Since the plants reseed so plentifully, I am not sure one would notice, or at least I have not noticed or thought about this.

In this environment, there is not too much you have to do to have a lovely summer hollyhock garden that will give you years of enjoyment (even if it is a child of your original plant and not the actual original). Plant in well-drained, nourishing soil, water regularly, and deadhead the plants as blooms fade and you will have a lovely Hollyhock garden or forest of plants, as you wish.


Street Talk

They are beautiful!

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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