Hollyhock, colorful and beautiful

Many different hollyhocks blooming in an urban landscape

Hollyhock is a true summer marvel with its magnificent flowers.

Summary of hollyhock facts

NameAlcea rosea
Family – Malvaceae
Type – perennial

Height – 4 to 8 feet (120 to 250 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary

Flowering – July to September

Sowing and caring for hollyhocks is easy, and they have the great advantage of reseeding themselves every year without needing help!

Planting and sowing of hollyhock

Sowing hollyhock

It is recommended to sow hollyhocks in spring and summer in a mix of garden soil and soil mix.

  • Hollyhocks like edges and the base of walls.
  • Sow seeds at least 12 inches (30 cm) apart.
  • Sow 2 to 3 seeds per hole.
  • Water in a light drizzle regularly to ensure that the ground stays damp.
  • It usually takes two years for the plant to bloom after sowing.

You can multiply your hollyhocks by direct sowing.

How to recover hollyhock seeds

To propagate your hollyhocks, harvest the seeds that are found in the capsules formed after blooming, store them in the dark over winter, and plant them in the ground in March or April depending on the climate zone.

Planting hollyhock

If you have purchased your hollyhocks in nursery pots, it is possible to plant them in the ground directly.

  • It is best to plant them in the spring.
  • Set the plants at least 12 inches (30 cm) apart to give them space to grow.
  • Water regularly for the first year after planting.
  • If they are located in a windy spot, you must stake them to avoid them bending over.

Pruning and caring for hollyhock

Well-cared for but short pink hollyhock in front of a small stone wall.Hollyhocks, once settled in, require almost no care at all. They draw the water they need from the ground, and can cope with very harsh conditions.

  • To boost flower-bearing, remove wilted flowers regularly (deadheading).
  • Cut dried stems at the end of the season, they will grow back naturally in the following year.
  • In regions with colder winters, protect the base with mulch.

Note that for windy areas, it is a good idea to stake your hollyhocks to keep them from bending over.

Year after year, you’ll notice more new hollyhock sprouts: seeds germinate very easily on their own in spring.

Diseases and parasites that attack hollyhock

Hollyhock rust

This plant is vulnerable to rust, a fungus that covers the leaves with rust-orange colored blotches.

  • Rust mostly develops in spring and summer if the weather is wet.
  • Leaves are mottled and turn brown before falling off.
  • Rust can kill a hollyhock plant.
  • As a preventive treatment, spraying with Bordeaux mixture in spring is mandatory.
  • As a curative treatment, only specialized treatments fighting rose tree diseases can do away with rust.

Hollyhock and aphids

In the insect parasite category, hollyhocks are vulnerable to aphid attacks.

All there is to know about hollyhock

Very beautiful perennials with abundant flowering all summer long, hollyhocks are a great addition to flower beds and along garden walls.

Hollyhock buds and flowerThis plant has cute flowers that can be white, pink or even a purple so dark it’s almost black, aligned at the end of long stems with sparse foliage.

They are often seen along roads and sidewalks and they often re-seed themselves naturally almost everywhere. The strength of their roots lets them squeeze in virtually anywhere, and even lifts up the pavement off the street.

They are perfect flowers for prairie gardens, and are a good match to plants like althea or tree mallows which are both cousins of the hollyhock plant.

Hollyhocks have always been acknowledged to have soothing health benefits. Hollyhock flowers are perfectly edible and are often eaten raw, in salads, or steeped in hot water to make infusions.

Smart tip about hollyhock

It is recommended to stake them to keep them from bending over.
Along a wall, it is enough to attach them with a wire or string stretched from one end of the wall to the other.

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY-SA 2.0: Maria Eklind