How to Cut Back Hollyhocks

Overview

Tall spires of hollyhocks are traditional anchors in old-fashioned cottage gardens. These short-lived perennials or biennials produce masses of color in summertime, tempting playful children to pick the blooms and create tiny dolls in flower-petal skirts. However, the blooms fade quickly and rust is a continual problem. Cutting back hollyhocks encourages a second flush of growth and controls rust.

Step 1

Wait until hollyhocks have stopped blooming in late July or early August. In hot temperatures the lower leaves wilt and drop off. However, new growth appears at the base of the plant and produces a second crop of flowers. The "Sunset Western Garden Book" suggests gardeners cut the hollyhocks down to the new growth to encourage reblooming, then apply a balanced fertilizer according to the manufacturer's directions.

Step 2

Cut the hollyhock stalks 3 inches above the ground in fall, after the second bloom cycle. Cover the root crown with 2 to 3 inches of mulch.

Step 3

Dispose of the cuttings in the trash. Rust produces dark yellow pustules on the underside of leaves, and hollyhock leaves are particularly disease-prone. Remove diseased leaves throughout the growing season.

Tips and Warnings

  • Seasonal winds blow the stalks, and the roots are disturbed as the stalks sway. Do not leave the hollyhocks unpruned through the winter, warns Norm DeNeal of the Montana Federation of Garden Clubs.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Pruning shears
  • Balanced fertilizer
  • Mulch

References

  • "Sunset Western Garden Book"; Kathleen N. Brenzel, ed.; 1995
  • Montana Federation of Garden Clubs: The Horticulture of Summer's Hollyhocks

Who Can Help

  • University of Illinois Extension: Hollyhocks---A Favorite Summer Flower
Keywords: cut back hollyhock, hollyhock bloom twice, fall care hollyhock

About this Author

Kimberly Fuller has been a writer for 15 years, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Utah. She has written successful grants for local schools as well as articles for Demand Studios, Constant Content and other online sites.