Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hollyhocks

July2010 131 My hollyhocks are finally starting to bloom. They line a fence that separates our backyard with the driveway to the back pasture. I find the driveway unattractive and like to block it from view. There is a foot path on the back-yard side of the fence, so I don’t have room for tall bushes and instead make use of tall flowers and morning glories to create a wall.

I have an odd assortment of old fashioned and double hollyhocks that have been grown from seeds, crowns, and collected seeds, some of which have since cross pollinated. The whitish ones in front have the faintest tint of pink to them; they are probably the product of the white and pink hollyhocks growing nearby. Some suggest only planting one type of hollyhock to avoid cross pollination, but I enjoy surprises!HPIM6060 - Copy (2) (To actually ensure that their isn’t any cross-pollination, no other variety of hollyhock could be grown with in at least a 1/4 mile).

They are happiest in a sunny, well ventilated area. They prefer rich soil, but it is more important for them to be planted in well drained soil. I just add lots of rich compost to my sandy soil and they are quite content. They are susceptible to rust, so I water from below to minimize their risk to the the fungus. I am hoping my husband is able to find time to install a drip line as hollyhocks like an inch of water a week and our high desert clouds cannot produce that much.

HPIM6062They are easy to start from seed. I sow mine outdoors in the fall a little more than a 1/4 of an inch deep, but you can sow the seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last frost. You can also sow them outside one week before the last frost just beneath the soil. Most hollyhocks only produce leaves the first year, so you need to be patient if you want to enjoy their beautiful flowers. Mulch them well in the fall and the following year enjoy their blooms. The flower spikes can grow up to 6 – 9 feet high, so growing them next to a fence or building provides them with some support and allows you to easily anchor them with twine if you live in an area HPIM6066with high winds.

They are short-lived perennials (mine usually live 3 years) so I always have new plants starting through out the bed. It is recommended that you allow at least 2 feet in between plants and I follow that rule for the older, larger hollyhocks. However, I do allow the seedlings to develop closer to the older plants that I am hoping to replace. Hollyhocks are pretty hardy and can withstand transplanting if you find you have several seedlings growing too close together.

Hollyhocks can also be started from crowns purchased at a garden supply store. These crowns have already gone through their flowerless, leafy year and usually produce flowers the first summer after you have planted them. Some of my hollyhocks were purchased as crowns and they are on their second year of flowers for me.

July2010 133 I have read suggestions to dead head the plants after they are done flowering as a way to increase their chances of blooming again the next year. I have not done that as I would rather collect the seeds, but my hollyhocks still come back and bloom a third year. I am not a horticulturalist, I only play one in my backyard, but I think the best way to ensure several seasons of blooms is to mulch the flowers well in the fall to protect the dormant terminal buds from damage during freezing temperatures.

To view beautiful flowers from around the world, visit  Flaunt Your Flowers Friday at Tootsie Time and don’t forget to fertilize those flowers!fertilizer Friday

17 comments:

ClassyChassy said...

I love the old fashioned hollyhocks, but your doubles are so fluffy, and are quite lovely. I've never had any before and wonder if they would fall over if they don't have support - kind of like bee balm??

Jenni said...

Hooray for Hollyhocks! They are so colorful. What surprises did you get color-wish this year? I tried a peach double blossom variety last year and I swear it reached 6 ft high!! It was quite the focal point as I'm sure your pretties are in your yard :)

Alea said...

Classy Chassy - Mine are doing well so far without support. they open from the bottom up, so once the top blossoms open I will have to provide support as they become quite top heavy.

Jenni- I still waiting for all of them to open to see what I have! I have at least 15 more plants that haven't blossomed yet.

Debbie said...

Hollyhocks are one of my favorite flowers as they bring back such fond memories of my grandmother. I don't have any doubles anymore, I used to and it seems that they either died out or reverted back to singles. Tell me, do you every have trouble with the leaves turning yellow and getting sick? Sometimes all I will have is a bloom with all the leaves falling off. Beautiful flowers!

Alea said...

I do have some yellow leaves, mine are mostly at the base of the plant and I have attributed to the dry conditions of the high desert. If your yellow leaves start out with spots or pustules, it could be the fungus rust. I water at the base of the plant to minimize the risk, but if you let in a wet climate you can't keep the leaves dry. If they are getting plenty of water, you might want to look into a fungucide. The good thing is that the rust usually stays confined to the hollyhocks and doesn't spread to the other plants.

Bernie said...

They are so beautiful. This is not a plant that will grow here, but I so loved seeing your great photos. Loved the dark burgundy one!!

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

Just beautiful! I buy them as annuals and hope to get a color other than white one year!

Cheryl @ Mamsie's House said...

Thank you for all the great information. Hollyhocks are one of my favorite flowers. I am actually considering digging a bed along a fence just for them. They remind me of my great grandmother who grew a huge bed of them in front of her house. Thanks again for the inspiration!

Darla said...

You have some great Hollyhocks!

Tootsie said...

oh they are just so beatuiful. I can't imagine how stunning a wall that would make. I tried them one time...never had any luck...might need to try again since you have made it sound so simple! thanks for linking in!

Becca's Dirt said...

Thanks for all that knowledge on hollyhocks. I was giving up on mine I planted this year from seeds I started indoors. Ok so they should bloom next year. You have some beautiful ones.

Jean said...

What a lovely assortment of hollyhocks. They are all beautiful! Jean

Jacqueline said...

Your collection of hollyhocks are just absolutely amazing. These flowers are one of my fondest memories of growing up. We had them at home in Wisconsin and made dolls out of them every year.

siteseer said...

I remember as a child walking to school they would be along the fence line of several homes. This is the first year that I'm trying them. I bought about 6 perenial plants and I've noticed buds on at least one of them. Bunnies like them to my dismay :( Should I take seeds from them and start more, or being perenial will they just naturally come back?

Alea said...

Jacqueline- I am going to do a tutorial on how to make hollyhock dolls this weekend. If you don't use chemicals on them, the pedals are edible, so we are going to make hollyhock dolls and use them on top of cupcakes.

Siteseer- The rabbits ate mine the first year, but most of them still came back. After you water them, sprinkle them with garlic powder and/or crushed red peppers. If you do that consistently for a week or two you will train the rabbits that they taste awful and they will leave them alone. I have to repeat the garlic powder/crushed pepper every spring so they young rabbits learn. :) I buy the super cheap garlic powder for .50 cents at Walmart for this purpose and I save the red pepper packets that come with delivery pizza.

Maureen said...

Beautiful! Hollyhocks are definitely a favorite. I remmember the singles from childhood and have had doubles. So very pretty.

Beth said...

Your hollyhocks are really pretty and this post was interesting. I have grown them for several years and they always re-seed - sometimes too much. This year was not a good year for my hollyhocks though as it was an extremely wet year and most of my plants developed rust. I do have one left that is healthy - whereas I had lots before. I will plant seeds again next year and start over. That's life in the garden! Always changing and sometimes challenging.
Beth