How to Grow Hollyhocks

This short lived perennial flower (often treated as an annual) originated in China, but was imported to English gardens around the 15th century.

Latin
Alcea rosea
Family: Malvaceae

Difficulty
Easy

Season & Zone
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Zone: 2-9

Timing
Start hollyhocks 6-8 weeks before planting out after the last frost date. On the coast, you would start seeds indoors in late February to early March, and transplant out in April or May. An early start may result in flowering the first year. Seeds germinate in 10-14 days. Ideal soil temperature for germination: 15-21°C (60-70°F).

Starting
Sow seeds on the surface of the soil, and provide bright light. Use peat or coir pots in an effort to minimize root disturbance. Transplant at 45-60cm (18-36″) apart.

Growing
Grow in rich, moist soil with good drainage and a neutral pH range of 6.0-7.5. The most important factor is good air circulation, so do not crowd plants or plant too close to structures, hedges, etc… Keep well watered and feed a few times during the growing season. If the flower stalk is cut back immediately after finishing, plants may bloom again. Stake tall plants.

Rust is a leaf disease to which hollyhocks are especially prone. It is worse on older plants and can be kept in check by replacing plants every couple of years.

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