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August 6, 2012

Charming Hollyhocks

- by Debra Anchors

Hollyhocks
Hollyhocks are nothing less than gorgeous.  Planted against a fence or a wall, these stunning six-to eight-foot plants in captivating pastels and enchanting reds have few equals.  But they are not just a pretty face.  Hollyhocks link those who plant them with England’s early cottage gardeners who knew the plants as ‘hock leaf’, due to their soothing use on the swollen ankles (hocks) of workhorses.  Over time, gardeners turned to hollyhocks to camouflage everything from outhouses to cracks in the cottage walls.

Anyone in USDA Zones 3 – 10 can enjoy most species of hollyhocks. Plants need full sun, average soil (no feeding is required), and staking where winds are high.  If they are happy, hollyhocks will dependably self-sow; seedlings can then be transplanted to new locations for bloom the following year.

Troubleshooting

Spots on hollyhock leaves – Keep a clean garden.  Leaf spot and hollyhock rust are caused by fungi that overwinter in the soil.  In late autumn, cut back plants and burn or dispose of all foliage (don’t add it to the compost pile).  When watering your plants, avoid splashing the leaves.

Hollyhocks least susceptible to rust Look for ‘Fig’ Leaf or ‘Antwerp’ Hollyhock if you are troubled by unsightly foliage.  The perennial strain ‘Antwerp Mixed’ has single flowers in pastel shades.  This charming six-to eight-footer flourishes in well-drained soil.  Consider also ‘Summer Carnival’, a biennial strain that blooms its first year.

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Leave a legacy, but garden like you’ll live forever! 
-Debra

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4 comments:

  1. gosh it's been years since I've grown Hollyhocks. Had a double almost black one once which was just devine. My granny used to grow them which I wrote about here http://thegardendesignco.blogspot.ie/ [earliest gardening memories]

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  2. I love hollyhocks. They were among the first plants I learned to grow. Such cheerful flowers. :o)

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  3. A building where I used to work had hollyhocks. I always wondered why they kept cutting them down in the fall. Now I know :)

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  4. I just started growing hollyhocks this year. Out of three plants, one managed to do full bloom.

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