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Why Your Garden Needs Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks PastelWith spring  already firmly established and seed planting and sowing already started, I thought this would be the perfect time to  extol the virtues of the Hollyhock. Hollyhocks were a common plant that could be found growing in most any Victorian era garden. Whether you're planning a formal garden reminiscent of the Victorian age, an old fashioned cottage garden, or something completely different I suggest you consider planting some Hollyhocks. Hollyhocks have many positive attributes including:

  • Hollyhocks add a beautiful splash of color and vertical dimension to any border.
  • Spectacular showy blooms
  • Hollyhocks ability to readily reseed themselves allow them to preform like a perennial
  • They are able to to tolerate heat well.
  • If you have a hot sunny spot other plants can't tolerate, try planting some Hollyhocks.
  • Hollyhocks are a favorite of the Hummingbird
  • The Hollyhocks height makes it a great screen for fences and other unsightly garden features
  • DSC02640Hollyhocks are a biennial plant, meaning that their lifespan is about 2 years. They will grow foliage in the first year and bloom in the second year. Hollyhocks will readily reseed themselves, so once you get your planting established they require minimal upkeep.

    The Best Location To Plant Your Hollyhocks

    DSC02635There are two things to consider when choosing a location to plant your Hollyhocks:
      1. For the most spectacular blooms you plant your Hollyhocks in full sun. They will tolerate a slight amount of shade, Hollyhocks growing in dappled sunlight may not grow as tall, however the blooms often last a little longer.
      2. Hollyhocks will not thrive in heavy compacted soil. They grow their best in soil which is rich and well drained.

    When To Plant Hollyhocks 

    681dd2eaf6a4e00ae23cbbce3c6d44ddWhen Planting Hollyhocks From Seed
    The most common recommendation is to plant your Hollyhock seeds in the fall, this allows the root system to get established over the winter months. Hollyhocks planted in the fall have a chance of blooming following summer.
    If you are unable to get your seeds sown in the fall have no fear Hollyhock seeds can be planted spring too. In the spring plant your seeds as soon as you can work up the soil. When planted in the spring Hollyhocks will produce foliage, but will not bloom until the following summer.


    When Planting Hollyhock Seedlings

Hollyhock seedlings should be planted in the spring after the last frost. If you start your own seedlings they should be gradually acclimated to their new surroundings over the course of 10 to 15 days.

    How To Plant Hollyhock Seeds

    peach 2Plant Hollyhock Seed Spring or Fall As Follows:
    1. Prepare the bed for planting, by working it up thoroughly.
    2. Add a healthy amount of compost, because Hollyhocks love their soil rich.
    3. Spread the seeds over the surface of the planting bed.
    4. Cover lightly with soil, no more than 1/4 of an inch. (If Hollyhock seeds are planted too deeply they will not germinate.)
    5. Water thoroughly.

    Planting Hollyhocks In The Spring
    Once the seeds have germinated and the plants begin to sprout you may need to thin them out a bit. Simply pluck out any tightly clustered sprouts, leaving approximately 18" between the remaining plants. Keeping ample space between your plants, allows for ample air flow and helps to reduce their susceptibility to rust.
    Planting Hollyhocks In The Fall
    Trim back any foliage at first frost. Mulch well, especially if you live in an area with severe winters. Remove the mulch in the spring and thin as described above.

     Hollyhock Care And Maintenance

    648b4ca4e47bc5a7db30df75c87512ab_576x768In the spring you can top dress your Hollyhock bed with composted manure or any other rich compost. This will promote rigorous growth. 

    • Hollyhocks need plenty of water to bloom well, but not too much. I water mine twice a week during the summer months. Always water at the base of the plant. Keeping your plants well watered and watering at the base helps to prevent rust.
    • If your Hollyhocks are located in a windy area, or you find that they are leaning due to their size, use stakes to help support them.
    • Deadheading your Hollyhocks will prolong blooming. Deadheading is simply removing faded flowers before they have a chance to form seed pods.
    To promote self reseeding allow some of the flowers to form seed pods towards the end of the season. As the seed pods dry out they will burst open, scattering the seed that will give rise to the next generation of Hollyhocks. This is also the time to collect seed if you are planning to start another planting.
    In the late fall cut back all of that seasons foliage. Apply some bone meal to give the root system a boost over the winter and mulch well 

    Hollyhock Rust is caused by a fungus called Puccinia malvacearum. The symptoms of Hollyhock Rust first present as rusty orange spot on the underside of the leaves. As the fungus progresses you will begin to see brighter orange spots on the tops of the leaves. Eventually the spot will grow and turn a dark brown color. Left untreated Rust may cause the loss of foliage.

     Preventing And Treating Hollyhock Rust

    hollyhock rustHere Are 5 Easy Tips To Prevent And Treat Hollyhock Rust:
    • Frequently checking your plants during the growing season, will allow you to quickly remove any infected foliage at the first sign a rust infection. This should help slow any further spread of the fungus.
    • Keeping water off the foliage when watering and good air flow around the plants also helps to prevent rust.
    • Keep your beds weeded to eliminate other common hosts of rust like Round Leaved Mallow.
    You can use fungicide to prevent rust. Rust pops up in the spring and persists through the rainy season. To completely control rust fungicide will need to be applied at 10 to 14 day intervals throughout the rainy season. Apply fungicide only to the foliage and the stems, always according to the manufacturers recommendation.
    At the end of the growing season always remove and dispose of any infected plants and plant materials. This will help limit the number of rust spores that survive the winter. Do Not put infected plants into your compost pile. Infected material should be burned, or sealed in a plastic bag and taken to the landfill.

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