Tall, blooming hollyhocks are an old-fashioned garden plant. Hollyhocks are a biennial for most growers in USDA zones 3 to 8. As a biennial, hollyhock planted from seed in June or July will produce foliage the first year and bloom the second year. In USDA zones 5 or higher where winters are more mild, hollyhock may perform as a perennial if the plant is cut back to the basal foliage (just above the ground) after the flowers cease blooming. Transplanting hollyhock can be challenging because of its long tap root. However, you can transplant seedlings.
Plant seeds outside in the ground or cold frame in June or July (for biennial) or inside in February (for annual). Planters or pots can be used with potting soil, inside or outside. Cover seeds with about 1/8 inch of soil. Place indoors in a sunny area where the temperature is at least 70 degrees. Keep moist, but not soggy. The seeds should germinate in five to ten days indoors and 10 to 14 days outdoors. Seedlings must have at least four leaves before transplanting, and when moving indoor seedlings outside, wait until the outdoor temperatures are at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Find a sunny location outside for transplanting. A location close to a building will make a nice backdrop for hollyhock, which can grow over 8 feet tall.
Weed the location where you will be transplanting the seedlings.
Amend the soil if necessary by adding compost as you work the soil down to 6 inches for soil with a good balance of clay, sand and organic material, or down to 10 inches if the soil is mostly clay.
Remove the first seedling gently from the pot. If planted in a cold frame or in the ground elsewhere, use a hand trowel to scoop up the seedlings. Those seedlings can be carried on a tray to the transplanting location. Poke your finger into the cultivated ground and move your finger around to create an opening for the seedling.
Drop the roots of the seedling into the hole and gently press the soil down around the stem. Continue planting the seedlings no less than 18 inches apart. Water, trying to keep water off the leaves to help prevent fungal problems. Once established, hollyhock will self-seed.
Things You Will Need
- Seed pots or planters
- Hoe or spade