A short lived, hardy perennial or biennial, that makes a big impact in the garden. This classic cottage garden favourite is available in a wide range of colours and makes a stunning backdrop for beds and borders. Single flowered varieties are loved by bees and butterflies.
Family: Malvaceae (mallow)
Botanical Name: Alcea rosea (syn. Althaea rosea)
Common Names: Hollyhock
Foliage: Simple rounded leaves. Deciduous.
Flowers: Large saucer shaped blooms, 3 to 6in (7 to 15cm) wide, opening from the bottom of the flower spike to the top. Single or double flowering varieties are available, in a range of pastel shades including red, pink, yellow and white.
Flowering Period: Early to late summer (July, August, September).
Soil: Moist but well-drained. Chalk, sand or loam. Any pH. Avoid waterlogged conditions.
Conditions: Best in full sun.
Habit: Tall upright.
Type: Can be grown as an annual, biennial or hardy perennial in the UK.
Hardiness: Fully hardy throughout the UK.
These tall showy cottage garden plants are ideal for the back of the border or against a wall or fence. An ideal choice for cottage or informal gardens. 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.
Best grown in a west or south facing aspect, in either an exposed or sheltered possition. Plant out pot grown plants in the spring. Feed in early spring with a general fertilizer and water well in dry conditions.
Provide protection from strong winds and/or staking on exposed sites.
Cut back flower stems after flowering, unless seed is to be collected. Remove any leaves that are badly affected by rust disease.
Susceptible to slugs and snails. The leaves are prone to fungal rust disease, especially in humid summers. Indicated by orange or brown pustules appearing on the 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.
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.
Classic varieties grow from 4ft to 8ft (1.2m to 2.5m) tall. Dwarf varieties, around 3ft (1m) tall, are available for smaller gardens. Common varieties of Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) grown in English gardens include: