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Growing Hollyhocks

Updated on April 27, 2011

hollyhocks

Majestic and proud, those are the words that come to mind when I see hollyhocks and ancient. The hollyhock has been around for a number of centuries and there are times when I am standing near one that I can almost feel the pull of that history.

The hollyhock is well known in the English cottage garden standing above all else well except maybe the delphiniums, but unlike the beautiful but tender delphs the hollyhock can stand alone without support.

If you do live in a place with high winds, I’d still provide them with some support though why take chances.

The hollyhock is often referred to as a biennial which means the plant flowers in the second year but it is considered by some to be a short lived perennial.

So remember when you plant the seeds in the fall that is you do not see flowers that first summer, do not despair and rip them out, give them the time that they need and your patience will be richly rewarded.

There are annual hollyhocks available. The hollyhock will self-seed.

An aside, the house I grew up in had hollyhocks planted in a small side yard near the neighbour’s house. It was a favourite play area for us when w e was small. It was a little space and the hollyhocks dominate the area. The frequent bees buzzing in and out also added a fascination.

One day that house was torn down and the hollyhocks went with it. I was a teenager at the time and had pretty much forgotten my old companions.

One day, about ten years later when my parents were getting ready to move, I was cleaning up the backyard and noticed that there were hollyhocks coming up. They were about 2 feet tall. My parents had not planted them.

I decided that they were sprouting from seed that had been scattered all those years ago, and this chance meeting renewed my affection for this magnificent plant.

The hollyhock enjoys being in the sun but is happy with some shade. Make sure the soil is rich and somewhat moist, if you want the plant to thrive. Just before you plant be sure to add well-aged manure or compost as this will help the plant grow.

You can sow the seeds outdoors just slightly beneath the surface of the soil one week before last frost. It may take 10-14 days for the seed to germinate. Be sure to space the seeds 18-36 inches apart.

If the weather is dry it is vital to provide water if you want them to flower. You can plant hollyhocks near a rain barrel if the site gets sufficient sunshine. They can help beautify the spot and this will make regular watering easier, provided, of course, that it rains.

The hollyhock flower is edible and would look great in a salad. I prefer to leave them on the plant and enjoy them visually but it is good to know that they have a secondary purpose.

The hollyhock is an ideal plant for the back of the border along the fence and especially with chain link fences can help serve as a privacy screen.

Drop by your favorite plant nursery and see the varieties that wait.

hollyhocks

courtesy/powi/flickr
courtesy/powi/flickr

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  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 5 years ago from New Brunswick

    Hollyhocks are impressive, my, hopefully, new garden next year will include several.

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

    I love Hollyhocks. When my mom grew then in the northeast they got really tall and although beautiful were very hard to contain and keep them standing, but here in the south they don't grow so tall and they are perfect! I grow all colors.

  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 5 years ago from New Brunswick

    Hollyhocks ooften bloom best in second year, happy gardening.

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    Gary of Arkansas 5 years ago

    My wife and I took a trip to Colorado a couple of years ago and while there we went to a yard sale...This lady had beautiful hollyhocks and told us they were full of seed and told us to take some...We sowed on the south side of the house and had a few flowers the first year but this year, the 2nd year, the are going to be beautiful. Just started putting on flowers about 10 days ago. Love them. Beautiful wine color...

  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 5 years ago from New Brunswick

    I am pleased the info was helpful, thanks for letting me know and have a great day.

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    Karla 5 years ago

    thanks so much Bob for posting so much info , ive got the black looking hollyhalks they are so beautiful . you have helped me with your site thanks so much!

  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick

    Glad to be of service.

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    mlplummer@centurylink.net 6 years ago

    Thank you, Bob. That link was very informative! I appreciate your help.

  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick

    This will answer your questions about seeds: http://www.wintersown.org/wseo1/Hollyhock_Seeds.ht...

    i would cut them back after the seeds have gone.

  • profile image

    mlplummer@centurylink.net 6 years ago

    This is my first year for hollyhocks. I have enjoyed the beautiful blooms and sturdy stalks but do I cut them down for the winter? When do they reseed?

  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for the ranking info and I am happy you found the information useful, happy growing.

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    4youreyes 6 years ago

    Your hub was very helpful, I got the information I was looking for. I was searching on Yahoo and your hub is number 2 congrats! I typed in growing hollyhocks.

  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick

    You are welcome, flowers, vegetables, gardens, even compost all invoke memory.

  • The Dirt Farmer profile image

    Jill Spencer 6 years ago from United States

    Enjoyed your garden memory the most. Thanks.

  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    They are worth it.

  • profile image

    GuineaPigGardener 7 years ago

    I tried growing hollyhocks this year for the first time and it did not work out too well. I had to make a few trips and didn't get around to watering them before they dried out. I had forgotten all about them and focused on my veggie garden, but after this post, I've decided to give them another chance next season. Thanks for the motivation...

  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    Flowers make good memories, thanks for visiting and happy gardening.

  • Pollyannalana profile image

    Pollyannalana 7 years ago from US

    Mom always grew beautiful hollyhocks up north but they grew so tall they fell over and were such a bother to keep up but we came south and they don't grow so tall and are perfect. She passed away in June but I will keep her hollyhocks and morning glories going. A happy hub, thx.

    Polly

  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    happy gardening

  • profile image

    patricia 7 years ago

    Planted one earlier this year.still waiting for it to flower,after reading above posts,looks like i will have to wait till next year

  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for dropping by.

  • Patsybell profile image

    Patsy Bell Hobson 7 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    What a cheerful, old fashioned flower. I love that they attract hummers and butterfies.

  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    I will see what I can find

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    jelleybean 7 years ago

    My leaves get brown spots like polka dots , and the leaves turn pale green...

  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    Are the leaves browning or wilting?

  • profile image

    Jelleybean 7 years ago

    I have a dreadful time keeping my leaves looking healthy...is it a fungi? What can I do??

  • profile image

    linda 7 years ago

    I planted some holleyhock plants last summer, cut them back in the fall, and they are not coming back this year. can someone help me with this? please reply to wyowilliams@wyoming.com

    thanks, linda

  • Bob Ewing profile image
    Author

    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    It may be a bit early yet for the hollyhocks give them another two weeks and see if they begin to bud then.

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    Val Adam 7 years ago

    I live in the UK, outer london. It is mid spring here and so clematis/roses/aquilegas have healthy buds...but nothing from the hollyhocks.

  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    It may be too early what zone do you live in.

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    Val Adam 7 years ago

    I planted hollyhock seeds last year and they did not flower (fair enough). This year I can see no evidence of a flower spike either. Is it to early, or can you get sterile plants?

  • Bob Ewing profile image
    Author

    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    Along a fence is indeed a good place for hollyhocks, happy gardening.

  • boxxies profile image

    boxxies 7 years ago

    It looks like it could be a good fit to plant

    along my fence at the back of the lot.

    Maria

  • Bob Ewing profile image
    Author

    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    On this hub or my blog? Thanks for dropping by.

  • agaglia profile image

    agaglia 7 years ago

    Thanks again, Bob. I love HollyHocks too. Tell me, how do you get your music and powerpoint on the website?

  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks, thank you for dropping by.

  • sooner than later profile image

    sooner than later 8 years ago

    You reminded me to plant my seeds. thanks. they are beautiful, and attract many variety of pollinating insects and birds. Breat hub.

  • Bob Ewing profile image
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    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for dropping by

  • Bob Ewing profile image
    Author

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for dropping by

  • flread45 profile image

    Frank 8 years ago from Montana

    I love hollyhocks,I have some pink ones

  • Bob Ewing profile image
    Author

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    I will see what i can find out.

  • profile image

    Laura 8 years ago

    Do you know about the colors seeming to turn a generic yellowish color after their first year of beautiful variety in color? My neighbors hh's were breathtaking the first year. Now they look wimpy and yellowish.

  • Bob Ewing profile image
    Author

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    The hollyhocks disappeared, were taken out many years ago at my parents' old place but reappeared some years later. Thanks for dropping by.

  • profile image

    Raggits 8 years ago

    Never could get them to grow, but I guess they did after I moved. It seemed as tho I was planting something for someone else all those years ago. We have a neighbor who has them growing along the ditch by the driveway and they have been coming up for over 10 years now. :)

  • Bob Ewing profile image
    Author

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Dreams and seed catalogues are essential when gardening season slows down. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Linnit profile image

    Linnit 9 years ago from London

    Hollyhocks are one of my favourites. Great hub Bob! You've inspired me to plan a space for them in the garden. I love dreaming about next year's garden at this time of year!

  • Bob Ewing profile image
    Author

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for dropping by.

  • profile image

    Ann in Spain 9 years ago

    My freind gave me some Hollyhock plants which she grew in France, now they are flowering wonderfuly in my garden in Southern Spain(my little peice of English garden in Spain)

  • Bob Ewing profile image
    Author

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    I cook, eclectic would be the style.

  • profile image

    marketingmaverick 9 years ago from BC, Canada

    Cook are you? What is your favourite genre to cook? Italian, Greek, Asian?

    Daniel

  • Bob Ewing profile image
    Author

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    thanks, that would have been a sight to see.

  • SweetiePie profile image

    SweetiePie 9 years ago from Southern California, USA

    Wow I love this hub. My parents used to have hundred of hollyhocks lining on side of our property, however many of these have died off over the years. I love how hardy hollyhocks are and these are such beautiful flowers.

  • Bob Ewing profile image
    Author

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

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    billy 9 years ago

    i was told that hollyhocks were poisionous to dogs? Could anyone help me out.

  • Bob Ewing profile image
    Author

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    It may be too hot and dry.

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    Abhinaya 9 years ago

    I wonder if Hollyhocks would grow in Southern India.They are so beautiful and majestic as you say.Thanks for the info Bob.

  • Bob Ewing profile image
    Author

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    thanks for the comments, if the rabbits leave them alone, they can do well.

  • Rob Jundt profile image

    Rob Jundt 9 years ago from Midwest USA

    My wife and I planted some hollyhocks about 5 years ago and have never replanted. They self seeded to the point to where I had to take some out. They stand proudly along our back fence. White and purple monument flowers they are.

  • firefly07 profile image

    firefly07 9 years ago from UK

    hollyhocks make a real impact in a border. Unfortunately most of mine were eaten by the rabbits, so I need to replant.

  • Bob Ewing profile image
    Author

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for the comments.

  • Kitchy Wytch profile image

    Kitchy Wytch 9 years ago from Alabama

    Ooh I love hollyhocks. Great hub! Thanks!

  • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

    Stacie Naczelnik 9 years ago from Seattle

    They are pretty. I never knew until now what they are called.