A native of China, hollyhocks (Alacea rosea) are a popular, old-fashioned biennial flower. Tall, upright flowers appear throughout the summer, growing along the length of the stems in a variety of colors ranging from white, pink and pale yellow to deep red and chocolate brown. Hollyhocks are annual or biennial, but they reseed readily and are used as perennials in most gardens. Their readiness to self-seed can make them a nuisance; early seedlings should be pulled from areas outside the growing bed.
Plant hollyhocks in the back of the border, against a wall if possible. Hollyhocks are vulnerable to wind damage and must be staked if they are not supported and protected by a wall or fence.
Grow hollyhocks in full sun in zones 2 through 8. In all zones, hollyhocks need at least 6 hours of sunlight each day.
Amend the soil with compost and organic matter. Hollyhocks like a rich, well-drained soil, but they will tolerate clay soils as well.
Do not overwater hollyhocks. In summer, thoroughly soak the planting bed when the top 2 inches of soil become dry.
Pinch back plants during the early part of the summer to encourage bushiness. Regularly remove spent flowers and trim off any dead or damaged foliage.
Cut plants back to 5 inches tall at the end of the flowering season, usually in early September. This will prevent reseeding.
Leave the stems uncut until after the first hard frost to allow reseeding. Cover the planting bed with a thick layer of peat moss, straw or root mulch. In spring, remove the mulch.
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