Hollyhocks are a fun easy flower to grow for any garden. They look best in an informal or cottage garden setting. Hollyhocks can grow to 9 ft. tall depending on the type. Dwarf varieties are around 3 ft. tall. Hollyhocks are short lived perennials in our area and can bloom the first season if planted in the fall. In other areas hollyhocks need a year of growth before they bloom. Plant hollyhocks in full sun in moist well drained soil. Give them 1 to 2 ft. of room between each for good circulation and to cut down on fungal growth. Add some good compost and you are ready to go. When watering your hollyhocks, water close to the ground and try not to splash the leaves. Hollyhocks can get rust which is a type of fungus. It will show up as brown rust colored spots on the bottom leaves. A spray with an organic fungicide such as Actinovate will easily get rid of this problem.
If you like to plant new types of flowers or want a variety of color, starting hollyhocks from seed is a fun idea. Planting hollyhock seeds in our zone 9 area is quick and easy. You can plant the seed directly in the ground or in a container. Sow seeds in fall and cover lightly with dirt. The seeds should not be buried deep. Earthworm castings make a great seed starting mix. Sprinkle a layer of castings on top of your soil before you plant. Sow the seeds in the castings. This gives your seeds a great start by providing a nutritious medium for the baby seedlings. Hollyhock seeds should sprout in 1 to 2 weeks. Thin out the seedlings to 1 ft. apart when the seedlings have at least one pair of real leaves. Keep a close watch for slugs as they love baby plants. Hollyhocks will reseed themselves so keep the ground clear and mulched around the plant to help reseeding.
If you haven’t tried a cottage garden and you like informal settings try planting hollyhocks with old garden roses and sweet peas on trellises. Good annuals to plant around this garden could be cosmos, larkspur, bellflowers, zinnias and pansies or violas. Other perennials you can plant are iris, pentas, salvia and daises. There is no right or wrong way to plant a cottage garden as long as the tall plants are in the back and short plants in front. I love my cottage garden because it gives me a chance to plant all the flowers my grandmother had in her garden and add a few of my own, Another plus to the cottage garden is that birds, bees and butterflies love the plants. Add some water in a birdbath, pull out your rocker and enjoy nature!
Short lived perennial
Full sun, at least 6 hrs.
3 to 9 ft. tall
Flower color – Red, White, Yellow, Peach, Pink, Maroon and other colors in between.