- Author: Jutta Thoerner
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Jutta Thoerner UCCE Master Gardener
Scientific name: Alcea species
Plant size: 3-8 feet tall, 1-3 feet wide.
Bloom description and season: Flowers are single or double, cup shaped and start at the bottom of the stalk and continue all the way up. Colors are blue, orange, pink, purple, red, white, yellow and black. Bloom time is May-August.
Pruning needs: none
Exposure: partial shade to full sun
Water needs: none
Hollyhocks never seem to go out of style. Seeing these towering plants in full bloom can evoke nostalgic memories of a grandparents' cottage garden. A defining feature is their size, easily reaching 6-8 feet with the entire stalk lined with stunning flowers that attract bumble bees and hummingbirds. Most hollyhocks are biannual, meaning they bloom during their second year. However, Crème de Cassis is a variety that will bloom its first year.
Hollyhocks require no water, even in the heat of the summer. They'll accept acidic, neutral or alkaline soil that is clay, silty or sandy. And like most plants, hollyhocks do prefer well drained soil. Strong winds can bend these tall flowering stalks, therefore, planting by a fence or in front of a wall is recommended.
Hollyhocks are easily grown by seed. When the flowers are spent, each flower turns into a large seed pod. Allow the seed pod to mature on the plant until the husk is dried, and they can be easily picked off. Simply drop the seeds on the ground in the location where you want hollyhocks to grow and bloom next year. No need to cover the seeds with soil or water. These self-sufficient seeds need no additional assistance. Damp or foggy climates can lead to rust on hollyhock leaves. Picking off the infected leaves and disposing of them is sufficient for managing this issue.
I can't think of a single reason not to add hollyhocks to your garden for next year! If you have extra seeds, consider adding hollyhock seeds to your gift giving list so your friends and family can enjoy the plant that draws your eye to the sky!
Advice to Grow By Workshops
Our next San Luis Obispo Advice to Grow By Workshop will be January 21st, 2024. The subject will be “Fruit trees-How Winter Care Can Aid Warm Weather Success”. More information to follow.
You can view workshops on Instagram live at slo mg or visit our You Tube channel at “San Luis Obispo County UC Master Gardeners.”
UCCE Master Gardener Helpline offices:
San Luis Obispo: 805-781-5939 (Monday and Thursday 1:00 to 5:00)
Arroyo Grande: 805-473-7190 (Wednesday 10:00 to 12:00)
Templeton: 805-434-4105 (Wednesday 9:00 to 12:00)