Grow tall, beautiful hollyhocks for a striking garden display.
image by cjessen: morguefile.com
Hollyhocks are an old-fashioned biennial favorite that fit well in flowerbeds and borders. Because of their height, many gardeners place hollyhocks along the back of flowerbeds and along fence lines for a striking display of colorful blooms. Hollyhocks will return for several successive growing seasons with proper care. Choose a sunny spot that needs some height and color and add hollyhock plants to your landscape.
Select a growing area in full sun in the spring after the last frost. Work the soil to break up clumps of dirt and loosen it to facilitate easy growing. Add 1 inch of compost to the top of the soil and work the compost completely into the soil.
Sprinkle the hollyhock seeds over the growing area, allowing them to stay where they fall. Keep in mind that hollyhocks can grow as tall as 6 to 8 feet, so make sure to place the hollyhocks at the back of a flowerbed or by themselves in a border along a fence. Cover the seeds with 1/8 inch of soil and water the soil gently. Keep the soil moist during the germination process and keep the plants evenly watered throughout the growing season.
Understand that because hollyhocks are biennial flowers, they normally do not flower during the first growing season after planting from seeds. The next growing season, watch for blooms to begin in the latter half of the summer.
Trim off the stalks after blooming is finished and the seedpods are brown and opening. Take the seed pods and carefully crush them in your hands wherever you desire hollyhocks to grow next season. Pull up the stalks that are finished blooming and discard them to help prevent disease from developing over the winter months.
Watch for a prevalent hollyhock disease called "hollyhock rust." This disease is extremely widespread among hollyhocks growing everywhere, but it can be minimized and prevented with proper care. Keep your hollyhocks healthy with a rich soil and plenty of water throughout the growing season because hollyhock rust is not as severe for healthy hollyhocks. Hollyhock rust appears as red bumps on the hollyhock leaves. Some gardeners find that spraying their hollyhock plants with lime sulfur will minimize the spread of the disease.