How to Grow Hollyhocks (Alcea) in Your Flower Garden

Growing Tips for Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks are classic cottage garden summer flowers. From the base of the stem, flowers bloom and stay open for days. Many flowers have 4 6-foot spires, making the plant seem to bloom for months.

Are Hollyhocks Annuals or Perennials?

Most of our plants are Alcea rosea hybrids, short-lived perennials or biennials. Biennial plants blossom and set seed in the second year after producing leaves. Self-seeding makes these plants look perennial since new plants sprout each year.

When and Where to Plant Hollyhocks

Seed directly outdoors in early June or a few weeks after the usual last frost. Press a few seeds on damp soil 2 feet apart in full sun, well-drained, organic-rich soil. As seedlings develop, thin to one plant per 2 feet.

Do Hollyhocks Attract Pollinators?

In addition to hummingbirds and butterflies, flowers are a magnet for bees. Deer are not interested in these plants, and birds consume the seed that they produce.

Pests and Diseases

Heat and humidity make rust a prevalent fungal illness. The tops of lower leaves develop orange and yellow rust patches. As the illness advances, leaf undersides develop brown to red pimples.

Varieties of Hollyhocks to Grow

Colors include red, pink, purple, yellow, white, and black (dark purple) in single or double flowers. In the 1800s, English horticultural William Chater created the most popular variety.