If you are looking for height in the cottage garden then the Hollyhock is the plant to grow. These are a biennial, they are grown from seeds and in the frost year they establish a root system but will only grow foliage during the this period.
And to add a little variety, we now have lower growing types, yes Dwarf Hollyhocks are available for sale as well. So add some height with the taller types. Plant the lower growing ones towardes the front of the border, or mix and match. The perennial border will look great.
It is in the second year that the Hollyhock or Alcea puts on its display of flowers rising on a tall spike. It flowers sets seeds and dies in that second year.
In the natural environment the seeds would be self sown and the process would begin again. Of course you would have some flowering one year and others the next, a continual display. Many gardeners like to collect the seeds and sow them in fall, just to make sure.
Planting the seeds in fall is said to give the plants a chance to develop a root system over winter, ready to put on growth in spring. Some gardeners do plant the seeds in spring with excellent results.
It is now possible to get 'Dwarf Hollyhocks'. These wonderful low growing varieties still have the colorful flowers, theyjust are not tall. So if you do not want the height, or want to have a mix between the taller and lower growing types, they are worth seeking out.
Growing Hollyhocks From Seed
- Seed scan be started indoors using a heated propagation mat to provide some bottom heat, this speeds up germination and early root growth.
- We usually sow directly by preparing a patch of ground and sowing directly, just lightly covering the seed with soil.
- Keep seeds moist during germination.
- The advantage of fall sowing is that seeds will be fresh and will germinate more quickly, however spring sowing will work just as well.
Use an all purpose fertiliser for good results, although some gardeners recommend a high nitrogen fertiliser in the first year, just a little though.
Where to buy
Hollyhock seeds are readily available for sale at good nurseries as well as online.