Plant colorful, old-fashioned hollyhocks in the back of a garden, where they can serve as a colorful backdrop for smaller plants, or showcase hollyhocks against a sunny wall or fence where they can take center stage. Hollyhocks require a period of cold in order to produce flowers, so plant hollyhocks in late summer or early autumn for blooms the following summer. Hollyhocks will usually self-seed, so once you plant them, you'll have blooms for years to come.
Choose a sunny site for the hollyhocks. Although hollyhocks like moist soil, they won't grow in soggy, poorly drained soil, so select a spot where rainwater doesn't puddle for more than four or five hours.
Prepare the soil. Use a spade or a tiller to cultivate the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Add 2 to 4 inches of compost, peat moss or manure and work it thoroughly into the soil.
Plant the hollyhock seeds in the prepared area. Allow 4 to 6 inches between each seed, and cover the seeds with no more than 1/4 inch of soil. Water the area carefully to avoid washing away the seeds. Use a hose with a spray nozzle or a watering can. The seeds should germinate in 10 days to two weeks.
Thin the hollyhock seedlings, leaving 18 to 36 inches between each plant. Hollyhocks will be large plants at maturity, and need adequate air circulation to avoid disease caused by excessive moisture.
Water hollyhock regularly throughout spring and summer. Water enough to moisten the soil, but never allow the soil to become soggy; hollyhock is prone to fungus. Water hollyhock at the base of the plant and avoid wetting the leaves.
Fertilize hollyhocks in spring and again in midsummer, using a general-purpose fertilizer specified for blooming plants.