February 4, 2009

ROBUST, UNFUSSY hollyhocks tolerate almost any well-drained soil as long as they get plenty of sun. Some varieties grow best in cool-summer areas, and they appreciate shelter from prevailing winds. Once established, they're quite drought-tolerant, but wet winters or any standing water may kill them; give them the best drainage possible.

Plant hollyhocks in groups of 8 to 12, setting them about two feet apart. They will grow into a stunning solid mass, making a dramatic vertical statement on a grand scale. Many gardeners like the effect of single colors in a group. To orchestrate this, buy seeds of single colors and grow them apart.

Traditionally, hollyhocks are grown up against a building or fence. In her home garden, Marilyn Barlow of Connecticut's Select Seeds, boasts a riotous stand of red, cherry, yellow, and pink singles growing near an old shed covered with orange trumpet vine. “Once, I grew them by the back door, but huge, fat bumblebees came tumbling into the kitchen,” she explains.

Set off hollyhocks with a froth of baby's-breath, clumps of daisies or black-eyed Susans, phlox, lilies, or sweet Williams. Include a few chrysanthemums to keep them company as summer turns to fall. In some old-fashioned gardens, dahlias were often grown in front of hollyhocks to hide their “shins.” Shorter annual hollyhocks are wonderful combined with climbing roses near a door or trellis, adding their jewel-bright tones to the splash of color.

Tall spires of hollyhocks are breathtaking as cut flowers, and in a mixed bouquet, it's easy to remove any scarred or damaged leaves. Arrange them with bellflowers, phlox, baby's-breath, and roses for a cottage-garden-in-a-vase.

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I direct sowed hollyhock seeds in my garden this summer and they really took off! I thinned them out to about 13 left at 3-4ft tall. Should I cut them down for the winter or leave them be until next summer and see what happens?


What types of soil are required by Hollyhocks? I have smooth soil here, in this soil, this plant will be able to survive well. In this time India's temperature is more than 40 degrees, in which the plant will be developed.

hollyhock soil

Hollyhocks do best in soil that has been amended with compost.

Groundcover & hollyhuck

If I plant hollyhock seeds, and I have creeping phlox in the area, will it be able to grow through the ground cover? I know bulbs do fine but I don’t know about seeded flowers. Kentucky.


In Washington state is August too late to plant hollyhocks. If not how long do the seeds stay good

Hollyhock planting time

For best advice, you might contact your county’s Cooperative Extension: http://www.almanac.com/content/cooperative-extension-services
In general, good times to direct sow hollyhock seeds are in late fall or around 6 to 8 weeks before your last expected spring frost. However, to see growth the same year, you can sow throughout the growing season until about 2 months before the first expected fall frost date (keep in mind that most hollyhocks bloom the 2nd year). Washington falls between USDA Plant Hardiness Zones of 4 to 9, so depending on where you live, the frost dates, and therefore sowing date, will vary.
To find out the frost dates in your area, visit: http://www.almanac.com/gardening/frostdates
For hardiness zones, see: http://www.almanac.com/content/plant-hardiness-zones
Hollyhock seeds remain viable for about 5 to 9 years, if they are properly stored.

Do HollyHocks need support? I

Do HollyHocks need support? I planted six in front of my west porch. There is enough pitch to provide drainage and there is adequate sun between 1 pm and sunset. In summer we're talking 6 to 8 hours of sun. The soil is about a 6 ph and is well fertilized with compost and last year's growth tilled in.

Hi, Len: It's not unusual for

Hi, Len: It's not unusual for hollyhocks to need support of one sort or another, which is why they are often grown up against something or sort of in clumps, which lends to gently and loosely tying together a group to one support. Just observe and help as needed. Sometimes they only seem to need support at the mid- stage, before they get more robust as they get taller. Use anything that works as a support, but one thing that works really well is the long fiberglass rods that you can use to demark your driveway for the snow plow or for parking purposes. Just repaint. Or, you can certainly use just sticks or branches. Thanks for asking!

I have hollyhocks growing

I have hollyhocks growing along a fence but here are vines and other junk that tend to hide these lovely plants. These are the old fashioned type, white, pink. I have cut several stems from each of these plants and have them in water to root. If these take root and it is late October before I am able to plant these will this be okay for them to get established or should I just pot them when they root and plant in the ground in spring?

Hi, Becky: Nothing ventured,

The Editors's picture

Hi, Becky: Nothing ventured, nothing gained, but it is extremely difficult to grow hh's from stem cuttings such as would be made for a floral arrangement. If they happen to have a bit of the root top attached, then there's a possibility. Usually, hh's are grown from root cuttings as wide as your fist and as thick as your pinky. Wait until late fall, when the plants go dormant. Cut right at the root ball, then make a slanted cut farther out. Try rooting and potting these and then replanting in spring. Great question, thanks!

This is my first year

This is my first year planting hollyhocks. I chose a black variety and plan on growing it along my fence. I have read that if germinated early enough they may bloom the first year. I also read that floating the seeds in water on a sunny windowsill helps with germinating ( as I have read that germination can be difficult for theses seeds). Does anyone have any opinions on the best way to germinate hollyhock?Indoors outdoors. I am in Zone 4 in central Washington state and the frost here can come late, generally I dont plant most things until after Mother's Day unless I know them to be hardy to frost.

The sooner you can start the

The sooner you can start the seeds indoors the better. Some readers have had luck by starting seeds in a plastic bag with potting mix (about 2 weeks to germination). If you plant the seeds in pots indoors make sure they are high. Hollyhocks have very long roots.