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Growing Hollyhocks: Hollyhock Varieties and Care

May 22, 2020

Hollyhock — also known as alcea rosea — are romantic, old-fashioned flowers with showy blooms that will add color and drama to your garden.

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Photo: Shutterstock/drpnncpptak

Why You Should Grow Hollyhock

Hollyhocks are one of a variety of short-lived perennials that are used in cottage-style gardens because of their loose, carefree look and beautiful large blooms that attract bees and butterflies. Many are heirlooms that have been used in country gardens for centuries.

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Photo: iStock/ntdanai

A Garden Classic

Want to add some height to your cottage garden? Consider including hollyhock (Alcea rosea), which blooms over a long period in summer. Depending on cultivar, its blooms come in singles and doubles in shades of lavender, pink, purple, red, salmon, apricot, white and yellow. The fast-growing hollyhock can reach up to 8 feet in height on rigid spires. Hollyhock is a biennial or short-lived perennial but reseeds itself readily in the garden.

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How to Grow Hollyhock

Members of the mallow family, hollyhocks are related to hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, and even the okra plants that grow in our vegetable gardens. These stately plants are easy to grow, if they have plenty of sun and moist, well-drained, rich soil. Sow the seeds outdoors, just before the last spring frost, about 1/4" deep and at least 2 feet apart. Give them shelter from the wind, so their tall stalks don't get blown over; you may need to stake them. Water from below, to avoid splashing the foliage and inviting disease.

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Placement in the Garden

Hollyhocks are wonderful for providing verticality in the garden and adding old-fashioned appeal to cottage gardens. They work well as border background flowers and when placed against garden fences, walls or other structures.

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