An old-fashioned favorite of many gardeners, hollyhocks add color and beauty along fences, walls and structures. These tall perennials often reseed themselves in nearby soil, creating a bushy, shrub-like appearance in the yard and flowerbed. These perennials seldom survive more than a few years, but maintain their appearance through this seeding characteristic. These hardy, bushy plants display delicate blossoms in shades of pink, peach, purple and white along their tall stalks.
Plant your hollyhocks in areas of your landscape that receive full sunlight. Although these bushy plants tolerate areas with partial shade, they prefer bright, sunny locations. Choose a location with protection from strong winds. These tall plants may lean in open areas, so plant them near a supporting structure, such as an exterior wall of your home or a garden fence.
Prepare the soil for your hollyhock seeds in the spring after the last frost or in the late summer before the weather turns cold. Remove rocks, weeds and other vegetation from your site. Loosen the soil with a garden shovel, turning the top 5 to 6 inches of topsoil. Spread a couple inches of aged manure over your loosened soil. Hollyhocks thrive in rich, well-drained soil compositions, often sprouting naturally on piles of old manure. Work this natural fertilizer into the topsoil to form a rich planting medium for your seeds. Rake the surface of the soil until smooth.
Scatter your hollyhock seeds over your prepared soil. Plant these in casual bunches to encourage a bushy appearance in your yard. Sprinkle about one-fourth of an inch of soil over the tops of the seeds. Press down lightly to encourage good seed to soil contact. Sprinkle water over them after planting, moistening the soil with a light spray. Keep these seeds slightly moist during germination. Gradually reduce the frequency of watering to keep soil slightly damp near the roots at all times.
Check these bushy perennials for signs of hollyhock rust. This fungus appears as yellow pustules on the underneath sides of the lower leaves. Pinch off the affected leaves as soon as you notice them to limit the spread of the disease. Do not leave these diseased leaves lying on the ground near your plants. For stubborn cases of hollyhock rust, apply a fungicide in the spring when new growth begins to appear on your bushes. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing and applying the fungicide to your hollyhocks.