Alcea rosea is the common Hollyhock, a wonderful easy to grow tall flowering plant widely used in cottage gardens. Hollyhock flowers are really an old fashioned favourite, these plants can reach over 2m (6ft), so probably best grown towards the rear of the border.
As for colors, the rosy pink and yellows are common, but whites and deep crimson are also available
How to grow Hollyhocks
Many gardeners fail with Hollyhocks for simple reasons, usually the inability to provide the necessary combination of sun and a cool moist root run.
This can best be achieved by digging in lots of well rotted compost and manure to create a humus rich soil.
The second factor is to find a sunny position and make sure that the soil around the plants is well mulched, or that planting is close enough to prevent the sun from drying the soil.
Hollyhocks and dry soil conditions do not go well together.
Remember that these stately plants will produce foliage in the first year and flowers in the second, they are biennials, however in many conditions they will reflowed for a number of years. And yes you can remove those small suckers, or side shoots to make new plants
Plants can be grown from seed either collected from previous seasons or purchased online. Seeds are best germinated in a cold frame, start in late winter.
Seedlings, or plug plants can be planted out in early spring. And yes Hollyhocks will self seed, however many gardeners are looking for new varieties, and in cold wet winters seeds can be lost through rot.
Once established Hollyhocks require little cate, however a few tips can help prevent problems. Rust and fungus can be a problem, avoid this by watering in the morning, and avoid watering the foliage as much as possible.
Rust has two solutions, one is to remove the whole plant and dispose of it, the second is to use a chemical 'rust spray'. You could try removing infected foliage, which are the leaves with the little yellow spots, however this is usually just a way of prolonging the problem. Prevention is better than cure, so ensure good air circulation and do not plant hollyhocks to close together especially where humidity may be a problem.
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Hollyhocks are available for sale from the following nurseries
CLAIRE AUSTIN HARDY PLANTS Hardy Plants - Tel: 01939 251173 - FAX: 01939 251637
Edgebolton, Shawbury, Shropshire, SY4 4EL