Hollyhocks, scientifically known as Alcea rosea, are beautiful, showy plants that attract pollinators of all kinds. Many people are advised against growing hollyhock flowers because they are two years old and won't grow flowers for the first year. If you don't mind the wait, they are pretty easy to grow! The key is knowing when to plant hollyhock seeds.
Growing hollyhocks are well worth the wait as they develop beautiful flower stems that will likely tower above you. They are attractive to bees, birds, and other pollinators, so they are excellent choices to stay in your vegetable garden to increase food production.
Because they grow to be several meters tall, they work well on fences or serve as a natural privacy hedge along property lines. You may need to put stakes in your flowers to protect them from noxious winds if you live in a windy area.
Let's take a look at when to plant mallow seeds so you can incorporate these wonderful flowers into your garden.
Everything about hollyhocks
It is important to determine when to start using hollyhock seeds. Source: Chiots Run
Alcea rosea is a stunning yet elegant flower for your garden. They're a classic cottage garden staple because of their pastel shades and delicate appearance, and you will likely find hollyhock flowers growing in a grandmother's garden.
Although they look delicate, they are actually a hardy plant. They are recommended to be planted in USDA hardiness zones 3-8, but they can sometimes be grown in zones 2, 9, and 10 if given extra care. If you have harsh winters, plant them in a container and bring them indoors for protection. If you have tough summers, choosing an area that gets midday shade will help you.
Hollyhocks are biennial, which means it takes them two years to complete their life cycle, so you won't see hollyhock flowers in the first year you plant hollyhocks. This discourages many gardeners, as many popular flowers are annual or perennial plants that develop flowers in the same year they are planted. The absence of flowers doesn't mean they won't show up; you just have to wait until next year.
It's worth the wait! While the first year may not look as beautiful as you imagined, the second year it certainly will. Most hollyhocks are at least 1.5 meters tall and can reach up to 2.4 meters. The upper part of the stem is covered with flower clusters in a rainbow of warm colors.
Hollyhocks are called short-lived perennials because they usually only live to be two or three years old, which means you'll only see them bloom once or twice. But prune the stems as soon as the hollyhock flowers begin to die, and they will grow back in the following year. With this practice, you can extend their lifespan by several years.
You can easily get hollyhock blooms in the cottage garden every year as the flowers easily self-sow by dropping their seeds. If you drop the seeds and let them grow freely, you will see new stems every year and you will always have continuous flowering.
If you don't want them to overseed, you'll need to remove used flowers to prevent the seed heads from touching the ground. Removing the flowers is also a way to save hollyhock seeds so you can plant them elsewhere.
When should you plant hollyhocks?
A hollyhock seed pod, dried and ready to seed. Source: camera shake
Hollyhock plants usually bloom in the middle of summer and early fall, so it is important to decide when to plant them. You won't see flowers the first year, but giving them plenty of growing time is guaranteed to see them next year.
Plant seeds outdoors
Hollyhock seeds can take up to three weeks to germinate, so they should be started fairly early in the season to ensure they have enough time to grow for the first year.
If you want to plant seeds directly in the ground in spring, you should plant them a week before the last frost date. Keep a close eye on the weather forecast so you don't accidentally plant too early as the cold temperatures can prevent germination. Spring planting is recommended for those who have very cold winters.
If you live in a warm climate with a long growing season and mild winters, you prefer to sow seeds in late summer. This way you can have beautiful flowers the following summer when the plants have enough warm days and sun to grow.
You can also plant seeds in containers if you wish. You may be able to extend the growing season as you can move the container around as needed to provide the seeds with more sun or warmth as the weather changes each season.
Plant seeds indoors
Growing hollyhocks indoors allows you to grow the plants outside of the typical timeframe so that you have a little head start. Plant the seeds in individual pots or cells and use grow lights to provide them with full sun.
You should start seeds indoors in seed starter cell trays a few months before the ideal time to plant transplants, which we will talk about next. For a spring transplant, you need to plant the seeds in late winter or early spring. For an autumn transplant, planting seeds should be enough in mid to late summer.
Keep in mind that seeds grown indoors and outdoors have different seasons to plant, so you probably won't be able to plant both at the same time.
Plant transplants outdoors
Hollyhock seedlings are usually ready to be transplanted in cottage gardens about nine weeks after the seeds are planted. Fall is the best time of year to move the seedlings. You can try transplanting hollyhocks in the spring, but they may not do well due to the possibility of a spring frost.
If you're not sure when to move your hollyhock plants, contact reputable local nurseries. When you have young hollyhock plants to sell, the time is right to move them.
You need to start the seeds well in advance. Source: hello-julie
Knowing when to plant hollyhocks is the first step in bringing them to your garden. Now let's talk about how to do it.
You can plant hollyhocks in almost any type of soil as they aren't fussy. You are happy with clay, loam, or sandy soils. However, to give your seeds the best chance of survival, you should choose fertile soil or a seed starter mix. The pH of the soil should be between 6.0 and 8.0 for best results.
You can use some potting soil for hollyhocks that you plan to grow in containers. For the flowers growing in the ground, apply compost or fertilizer in the spring.
Hollyhocks don't like moist soil, so make sure you choose well-drained soil so the water doesn't puddle.
New plants need more water than fully grown plants, so you'll need to keep your seeds and seedlings moist. Don't let puddles form or the soil dry out while your flowers are young. They can tolerate frequent watering if you choose well-drained soil. If you are growing seeds indoors, make sure the containers have drain holes at the bottom.
Avoid getting the leaves wet while watering. Hollyhocks are prone to rust, a fungal infection that can damage your hollyhocks. Making sure that water only touches the ground is an important step in preventing rust diseases.
Transplanted hollyhock flowers will also require more water than usual a month or two after transplanting. Try to give the plants about an inch of water per week. Once the plants are established in their new home, you can water less frequently.
Mature hollyhocks are somewhat tolerant of dry soil. So, if you have to go without watering for a few days, or if your area goes through a dry spell, they should survive for a while with less water than usual.
Hollyhocks are happiest when they get full sun – that is, six or more hours of direct sunlight. They can handle partial shade, but for the most part, you'll see them best when they have adequate sunlight and water.
One situation where your flowers may need partial shade is if you live in an area that gets excessively hot in the summer. Shade during the heat of the day will protect the flowers and leaves from burning. The shade can come from a tree or building, or you can cover it up yourself with a row cover.
If you decide to protect your hollyhocks from the heat, keep in mind that they will need at least six hours of sunlight.
This shows hollyhock seeds, albeit in black and white. Source: jlevinger
To plant the seeds outdoors, use a rake to prepare the soil so that it does not become compacted. If you want a flower bed full of them, sprinkle the seeds evenly over the area. It is not necessary to cover the seeds with soil and they should not be more than ¼ of an inch underground. You can easily cover them with a thin layer of soil if you want. If you live in a windy area or have a lot of birds it may be safer to cover them.
To plant seeds indoors or on purpose in the ground, plant 1-3 seeds in a recess in the ground. As with scattered seeds, you can cover them with a thin layer of soil. You will need to thin out the seedlings as soon as they sprout if you are placing more than one seed in the same spot.
Gently pour your seeds, being careful not to let water build up, and move them around. This is especially important for scattered seeds outdoors. Be prepared to wait a few weeks for them to germinate and keep the soil moist while waiting.
How to transplant hollyhocks
Transplanting hollyhocks must be done carefully so that you do not accidentally damage the plant.
Start by watering the hollyhock thoroughly the day before transplanting so that the plant is well watered. Dig a hole that is the same depth as the root ball but twice as wide. Carefully put the seedling in the hole and fill it with soil. Water it thoroughly to allow the soil to settle. Add more soil if needed.
The top of the root ball should be level with the floor line so that your hollyhock isn't sunk into or sitting on a small mound.
frequently asked Questions
Seed pods that form along a hollyhock stem. Source: cogdogblog
Q: Are hollyhocks easy to grow from seeds?
A: Hollyhocks are easy to grow from seeds if you give them full sun and enough water. They take some patience as you won't see any blooms until their second year.
Q: Can you just scatter mallow seeds?
A: Yes, you can sprinkle hollyhock seeds. You don't need to cover them with earth unless there is a great risk of wind or birds getting to them.
Q: How long does it take hollyhocks to grow from seeds?
A: Hollyhocks can take up to three weeks to germinate, and they don't start to flower until the second year. If you re-sow hollyhocks, you will get beautiful blooms every year.
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