Thursday, July 15, 2010


Although HOLLYHOCKS are officially biennials (life cycle of two years), hollyhocks reseed very easily, and so they can persist for a number of years.  To reseed, just crumble a few dry pods over the ground.  They need light to germinate, so just make sure they have a good seed-to-soil contact. (Be aware, though, that self-sown seeds will be variable).  They are very hardy  and usually grow anywhere from 4-6 feet tall.  They don't take up a lot of room, they are taller than they are wide, so it looks especially dramatic to plant them in groups.  I have found that in richer soil they may need to be staked, so ordinary soil is probably the best--what you would grow your vegetables in. They come in a host of colors, and come in single blooms as well as double blooms.  I have three double blooms that I think are gorgeous--Peaches and Dream, a peach with raspberry veining bloom; Newport, a clear bubblegum pink; and Prosperity, an absolute beautiful pristine white. I have had others in the past--all singles, but I prefer the doubles.   They do best in full sun, or at least 6 hours, and because they grow so tall, against some protection from the wind like a fence, side of hedge or building.  Too much water can be fatal--they are pretty drought tolerant.  They have few problems.  They can get rust--caused by a fungus.  The leaves turn yellow and fall off.  If you remove the stems as soon as you see it, and make sure to keep fallen leaves cleaned up, you can lessen the problem.  You can also dust the plants, starting in spring, with sulfur (be sure to dust the underside).  They also get a little pest--a long-snouted little beetle.  I've noticed that the problem is significantly greater in their second year of growth  (another reason they are biennials--the 2nd year growth is usually weaker). They chew holes in the leaves, making them look lacy, and they can eat the flowers.  Spray  with pyrethrin with 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol per pint of diluted mixture.   I have seen hollyhocks in large clumps in English-type gardens, and they are simply wonderful, especially the single old-fashioned-looking ones!  I wish I had the room to have such a display!  I have several starts of hollyhock left, if you're interested, let me know.  
Susanne Holland Spicker Mother, Grandmother, Homemaker, Gardener, Teacher, Photographer

Passion is defined as the love of, or the object(s) of affection and emotion. I am passionate about family, friends, flowers, food, photography and fabulous music! This blog is dedicated to those loves.

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