Botanical name: Alcea
Cottage garden stalwarts, hollyhocks are easy to grow from seed and will often obligingly self-seed around the garden. The tall elegant flower spikes are produced from the well-known biennials, but you can also try annuals and short-lived perennials too. Mix them with other summer favourites such as campanulas and hardy geraniums for weeks of colour in summer.
Tall, upright stems carry large, crinkle-petalled flowers in white or shades of pink, cream, apricot or dark dusky red, alternating with rough-textured leaves. Some have double flowers.
Hollyhocks will grow in most soils, including both heavy and dry soils, in full sun. They are well known for finding cracks in paving and at the base of walls, from which they can make striking displays from seemingly inhospitable ground.
Hollyhocks do not do well in shade. Tall stems can blow over in a windy spot, so may need staking.
Did you know?
Older plants are very prone to hollyhock rust, which causes heavy spotting on leaves and poor growth overall. To reduce the risk, replace with fresh plants every year (or every other year).
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