Alcea rosea (Hollyhock)

hollyhock alcea rugosa yellow flowers

Short lived hardy perennial or biennial that makes a big impact in the border. These tall showy cottage garden plants are ideal for the back of the border or against a wall or fence. They will need some protection from strong winds and/or staking on exposed sites. They will also look best if other leafy plants are grown in front of them to cover up the lower leaves, which can look unsightly if rust disease is a problem.

Can be grown as an annual, biennial or hardy perennial in the UK.

Single or double flowering varieties are available, in a range of pastel shades from red, pink, yellow and white. Flowers appear from early summer to late summer (July/August/September). Flowers are saucer shaped, 3 to 6 in (7 to 15 cm) wide, opening from the bottom of the flower spike to the top.

Classic varieties grow from 4ft to 8ft (1.2m to 2.5m) tall. Dwarf varieties, around 3ft (1m) tall, are available for smaller gardens.

Varieties of Hollyhock

Common varieties of Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) grown in English gardens include:

hollyhock pink flowers
Alcea (Althaea) rosea
common hollyhock
hollyhock halo flowers
Alcea rosea 'Halo'
tall growing variety
hollyhock flower semidouble
Alcea rosea annua
dwarf variety
powderpuff flowers
Alcea rosea 'Powderpuff'
early flowering
chaters double flowers
Alcea rosea 'Chater's Mix'
traditional double variety
pink flowers
Alcea pallida
floriferous & drought tolerant

Single flowered varieties are loved by bees and butterflies.

Pruning Hollyhocks

Cut back flower stems after flowering, unless seed is to be collected. Remove any leaves that are badly affected by rust disease.

Propagating Hollyhock

Perennial or biennial hollyhocks are easily raised from seed outside in early summer. Transplant to flowering positions in autumn or early spring. Sow the annual form under glass in February or March and plant-out in May.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to slugs and snails.

Leaves are prone to fungal rust disease, especially in humid summers. Indicated by orange or brown pustules appearing leaves, in mid to late summer. Provide good air circulation and spray with a suitable fungicide at first sign. Remove all badly affected leaves.

If rust disease is a problem in your area, grow as a biennial or grow one of the early flowering varieties such as 'Summer Carnival' as an annual.