How to Prune Hollyhocks
Alcea rosea, commonly known as hollyhocks, are tall, stalk-like plants that can be found growing in many climates and different types of soil. Hollyhock blooms range in color from deep reds to light pinks and even black. These semi-tropical looking flowers bloom in mid-summer with large flowers growing up stalks that can reach 5 to 7 feet in height. Proper care for hollyhocks, such as pruning, is a must when trying to maintain constant blooms and foliage from the plant.
Remove any dead or dying flowers throughout the growing season. To remove, simply pinch or clip the dead or dying growth where it branches out from the main stalk.
Use your pruning shears to cut the hollyhock plant down after it turns brown during the fall months. According to University of Illinois Extension horticulturalists, stalks can be cut down to new basal foliage when flowering is complete to keep the plant looking neat.
Since the plant has a dormant season where it is not visible in the garden, you can leave 1 to 2 inches of the stalk sticking up out of the ground. This will help you remember where the plant will sprout next year.
Water the plant after pruning sessions. Pruning can sometimes steal away nutrients from the plant. Waters will help the plant stand up to the loss.
Cut hollyhock stalks down by half using sharp pruning shears in early summer to create a shorter, sturdier plant that will not require staking. Flowers will bloom a few weeks later than on a plant that is not pruned in this way and flowers on the cut-back stalks are smaller, making them more useful for flower arranging. Remove yellowed leaves, often appearing early in the summer due to fungal diseases such as rust and powdery mildew, which commonly affect hollyhocks. Remove all the old flowering stems and the old, ragged basal leaves. The new foliage is more attractive at this point and holds up well through the winter, remaining semi-evergreen in areas with mild winters.
- Garden Grower: Flowers - Hollyhocks
- University of Illinois Extension: Cole County Yard and Garden-To Prune or Not to Prune
- The Well-Tended Perennial Garden; Tracy DiSabato-Aust
- New Mexico State University: Master Gardener Newsletter -- Plant of the Month -- Hollyhocks