{Almost} Wordless Wednesday :: Hollyhocks (Alcea)

Posted on: July 23rd, 2015 by Trillium Art

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No cottage garden would be complete without the stately spires of Hollyhocks, boasting blooms of so many different colours! These beautiful flowers always take me back to my childhood and summer visits to my Grandparents home. I can recall standing under the hollyhocks and gazing skyward as they stretched up to greet the sun! This old-fashioned plant is impressive, growing upwards to 9’ adding a wonderful vertical element to the perennial border.

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In our zone, Hollyhocks are short-lived and are usually considered a biannual, meaning they will only last two years. But, never fear…they are great at re-seeding! There are some great varieties available by seed in the spring and are quite easy to germinate. Plant the seed outside just after the threat of frost has past. If you have a seedling, wait until several weeks past the threat of frost to safely plant it outside. Some of the varieties will bloom the first year, however, most of the hollyhocks will grow to a clump of heart-shaped leaves in year one and bloom the following year.

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Hollyhocks create stunning drama as a backdrop to some of the shorter perennials such as Baby’s Breath, Coreopsis, Summer Phlox or Sedum. The plants are sturdy and the stalks are quite strong, although it is best to stake them to avoid any damage during summer storms. By placing them against a building or fence, this will provide the support they need.

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One of the biggest complaints about growing Hollyhocks is the development of rust; small yellow blotches. I struggled with this every year with at my previous garden. The best tip is to water the base of the plant, avoiding the leaves, remove the bottom leaves to help contain it, apply a fungicide and make sure the plant has good air circulation.

These gorgeous pink Hollyhocks were discovered along the south wall of a beautiful stone building – Melville United Church in Fergus. Even though it was a windy day, the plant was very protected and lovely against the stone.

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This garden favourite is also popular with butterflies and hummingbirds. Do you have Hollyhocks in your garden? What colours are your favourite?

Zone: 2 / 3 (depending on the variety)

Light Conditions: full sun

Soil Conditions: moist, rich, well-drained soil

Height: 6’-9’

Spread: 1’-3’

Flower Power: stalks of bright blooms that flower in mid-summer, mostly found as single blooms in shades of maroon, pink, rose, white and yellow. Be on the lookout for double blooms in both single or mixed colours

Tips: will grow under black walnut trees – tolerant of juglone that is emitted from the roots

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