Nothing is more reminiscent of an old-fashioned country garden than the hollyhock. With tall, gorgeous stalks of bright flowers bunched on top of one another, this short-bloomer was once considered the staple bloom to tumble over picket fences or line the sides of houses. Grown in zones 3-8, hollyhock is available in many shades of red, orange, yellow, pink and purple.
Plant seeds indoors in 3-inch pots in February in a good seed-starter soil or mix.
Keep pots moist but not over-watered until seeds germinate. Thin weakest seedlings out, leaving just one hardy seedling. Hollyhocks will take about 2 weeks to germinate.
Allow soil to dry out between waterings as your seedling grows. Give your new plants plenty of direct sunlight (growing in a cold frame, greenhouse or greenhouse window is best.) Turn your plants and move as needed to keep the growing plant from stretching too far one way into the light.
Transplant your hollyhocks into the garden by digging a hole twice as big as your pot and adding compost or fertilizer to the bottom before adding the flower. Hollyhocks need a strong root system to flourish, so be sure to remove your plant carefully from the pot and bury the whole root system in loose, well-draining soil. Do not expect much in the way of blooms in your plants first year. Once established for a year, your hollyhocks will bloom brightly year after year.