Hollyhocks are rapidly taking over American gardens, adding spectacular value to them over time. They basically belong to the Alcea family, which encompasses 60 species. Also, they come under the Malvaceae or mallow group which has over 2300 species.
Hollyhock flowers originate from Western Asia, though some species come from Europe and Egypt. As a result, they are capable of surviving droughts.
However, they thrive pretty well in moist soil, so regular watering is recommended, but not mandatory. They’re related to cacao, cotton, and okra.
What Do They Look Like?
Hollyhocks strongly resemble Rose Sharon or Hibiscus but have leaves that are clearly distinguishable. Hibiscus belongs to the same group as hollyhocks and contains 300 varieties of its own.
Available in singles, doubles, and semi-doubles, hollyhocks are biennials, meaning that it takes time before their blooms become vibrant and bright. Nonetheless, we do sometimes regard them as annuals and perennials because of their ability to self-seed.
A typical plant will grow 6 feet tall, comprising of a single branchless flowering stalk that bears a dozen flowers. But they may rise up to 9 feet and can hold up to 2 feet of blooms on each stem.
Considering their tall height, they can be ideally placed at the back of the garden along the fence or wall or attached to stakes to prevent them from tumbling in the wind. While there are numerous hybrids, the wild varieties of hollyhocks come in pink or yellow.
The overall plant is characterized by round leaves featuring little points and plenty of flowers. Hollyhocks can be planted in spring but the best time is autumn so you can get the blooms in the upcoming summer through to autumn.
For hollyhocks to thrive, they should be positioned in full sun where they can attain at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. A good drainage system is necessary to maintain the moisture in the soil. Plus, they bloom to about 1 foot, so ample space should be allocated.
Hollyhocks come in many colors such as purples, pinks, whites and yellows including rich, dark purples that almost look black.
Source: All my favorite flowers
To help you decide which variations are best for your gardens, we’ve put together a list of the most popular types of hollyhock flowers:
Types of Hollyhocks
Alcea rosea is the most common variety of hollyhock that grows in USDA zones 4 through 10. It typically blooms during the summer months from June through August and reaches five to eight feet tall.
Once you plant the flower, it will keep on blooming every year without the need to re-seed. Alcea rosea offers a multitude of colors, ranging from white and yellow to pink and red and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden. The varieties of Alcea rosea include:
This variety comes with beautiful white flowers, with its double pom-pom bloom, making a perfect choice for the back row of any garden.
This type is mainly admired because of the fuchsia ring or halo situated in the middle of the flower as well as its yellow center. Its petals are white to soft pink. It’s truly a great choice if you aren’t into solid colored blooms.
Peaches-N-Dreams is known for its double puffy pastel peach bloom, featuring a tremendous combination of pink and yellow. They are born to produce a great contrast with the brick walls in your garden.
Crème De Cassis
What distinguishes this variety is its incredible raspberry and white coloration, that gives it a stunning look in the sunlight. When it yields a single bloom, it has a bright yellow center, while in case of semi-doubles, a pretty little pink and white puff rests in the middle of the other petals.
The scarlet eye blooms feature deep red blooms. These come in doubles, producing an amazing ruffle effect in your garden.
If you’re looking for a gorgeous Alcea rosea variety, double apricot is a perfect choice. It features a double bloom that is soft apricot in color. A double apricot range will make a great bordering in your garden.
Source: Garden lovers club
Alcea ficifolia, also known as fig-leafed hollyhock, is a lesser-known variety of hollyhocks. Its flowers are white or cream in color while the leaves are deeply lobed.
Producing an abundance of flowers from May through October, it’s a robust variety that produces several bloom-yielding stems at the base of the plant.
You’ll see blooms emerging in different colors from the same plant which has an upright growing habit. The most popular variety of Alcea ficifolia is known as “Happy Lights.”
While most hollyhocks feature pastel or vibrant colored blooms, Alcea nigra presents deep purple flowers that appear black, unless there’s sufficient light to highlight their true color. Featuring a paler purple center, this variety helps to bring some contrast to your colorful garden.
Some of the most popular varieties of Alcea nigra include Arabian Nights, The Watchman, Nigra Erfurter, Black Beauty, After Midnight, and Jet Black.
Alcea rugosa is known for its bold yellow flowers that look beautiful when planted together, but single plantations are preferred for smaller gardens.
The plant is native to Russia, and its soft buttery yellow strain makes it sturdy enough to thrive absolutely anywhere. Yet, it’s hardly seen in the US.
With quick germinating seeds, the plant is easy to grow. It thrives well in both full sun and partial shade. It demands well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6 and 1 inch of water per week.
Steps-By-Step Process of Planting Hollyhocks
When growing hollyhocks, the most important factors that influence their growth include site selection, preparation of soil, plant and seed care, water management, and the overall growing conditions.
Depending on the conditions and your preferences, you can plant hollyhocks either indoors or outdoors. Let’s discover the plantation process in each case:
Planting Hollyhocks Indoors
Get Your Preferred Seeds
For hollyhock flowers, you have a variety of colors to choose from, such as white, pink, red, yellow, and maroon.
Moreover, the holding stalks range from 6 to 9 feet. Thus, consider your color preferences as well as your space and height needs before opting for seeds. Hollyhocks normally re-seed themselves in the subsequent years, so all you need to care about is seeding it the first year.
Trick the Flowers into Blooming the First Year
Depending on where you live, planning ahead could help increase your chances of first-year blooms. If you’re located in an area with cold winters, plant the seeds indoors during the fall.
Try to germinate them early on during October or November, allow them to experience winter and wait for the flowers to bloom in the upcoming spring. But this doesn’t mean you’re deprived of the first year bloom if you reside in warmer climates.
Given that you’re somewhere between USDA hardiness zones 3-8, you’ll probably be lucky. In warm zones such as 8, you can still achieve a first-year bloom by planting the seeds outdoors in the fall or spring.
While for cooler zones like 3, you should ideally plant the seeds indoors during fall or early spring.
Use Individual Peat Pots
Hollyhock seeds have a high germination rate, are large, and very few come in a package. Therefore, the best approach is to sow the seeds individually. Ideally, seeds should be placed 0.64 to 1.27cm below the soil surface.
You may use any small plant container, but plastic peat pots carrying vermiculite, peat moss and perlite are best. To provide adequate sunlight, place the pots near a window. Water the seeds sufficiently and you’ll have the seeds germinated within 1 to 2 weeks.
Transplantation of Seeds
If you’re growing the seeds indoors during winters, you’ll have to transplant the germinated seedlings in 10 to 15cm pots.
However, if you aren’t planting in winters, for instance, in spring, simply move from peat pots to the outdoors. Again, allow the sunlight to reach them and water them regularly.
Planting Hollyhocks Outdoors
Plant the Seeds in Spring
When it comes to planting hollyhocks outdoors, you’ll have to wait for spring until all signs of the first frost have passed. When the average soil temperatures reach 50°F (10°C), you are good to go. That’s when you can move the seedlings from indoors to outdoors.
On the other hand, if you didn’t start the plants from indoors, you may simply sow the hollyhock seeds directly in the ground right now, which means you won’t have to wait for spring. Again, plant the seeds in 0.64 to 1.27cm soil depth.
A soil thermometer can be used to test the ground temperature by following the instructions stated for the use of the thermometer. Alternatively, the growing guide relevant to your area may also be used to estimate the temperature of the soil.
Select a Sunny Location
As mentioned earlier, your hollyhocks will do really well if they’re provided with 6 hours of sunlight every day. However, if they have partial shade, the resultant flowers might be smaller and colors not as vibrant, even if they get 6 hours of sunlight.
Even though hollyhocks adapt to different environments and climates, you’ll have to pay special attention when it comes to providing sunlight.
Locate the Plant Wisely
Since hollyhocks can grow pretty tall, they can be thrown down by strong winds. Considering their vulnerability to wind and precipitation, they should either be planted in a garden with plants of similar height or near the wall or fencing.
Search for the Ideal Soil Spot
A day after the rain is perfect for selecting the right spots. The next day after the rain, look for the soil that remains moist more than 1 inch deep, yet doesn’t puddle up with water. That’s the ideal spot for planting a hollyhock.
Apply Organic Compost
This isn’t really necessary, but hollyhocks thrive when the soil is enriched with organic compost or aged manure. Even though hollyhocks are pretty flexible in terms of soil pH, tolerating conditions between 6.0 and 8.0, you can manipulate its pH to enhance the nutrient level of the soil.
Manage Sufficient Space Between Plants
When transplanting, make sure you space plants 30 to 61cm apart or 46 to 91cm apart if they are a tall variety. Seedlings ought to be transplanted in a way that the soil surrounds its roots, which should either be level with the garden soil or slightly above it.
On the other hand, if you’re directly sowing the seeds into the soil, you can allocate a larger space of your choice for thin seedlings. However, when it comes to planting seeds, they should be positioned 7.6 to 15.2cm apart and 0.64 to 1.27cm deep.
Provide Sufficient Initial Watering
Whether you planted a seed from scratch or carried out transplantation, make sure you water them sufficiently. All you need to do is keep the ground moist to a depth of greater than 1 inch. There’s no don’t need to drown them, of course. Use your finger to track this moisture level.
Provide Organic Mulch to the Plants
Another great strategy to make the best out of your hollyhock plant is using mulch. If you surround each plant with 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch, it will not only serve to keep the soil moist.