Thursday, May 11, 2017


MAY 11, 2017

I received the following inquiry regarding hollyhocks. Hope this helps.

"Good Afternoon,
"I'm trying to find Hollyhock plants, I've tried to plant them from seed many times but have never had any luck and I love them so....

Do you have any roots/plants for sale or do you know where I might find them?"

Your difficulty with hollyhocks is not uncommon. They require some amount of light to germinate so must be “planted” with little or no soil on them. They are a flat seed so they dehydrate quickly so they need a little moisture to germinate but too much kills them and too little dehydrates and stops the germination process and they don’t make it. I usually just sprinkle them on the ground in the early spring--kind of copying their natural process of the previous year’s seeds falling to earth after they mature.

If you find any plants at greenhouses or garden centers, use care planting them. The other problem is that they have one main taproot and a bunch of smaller side roots. If the main root is injured during planting, the small roots usually will keep it going for the balance of the year but they will not overwinter and what you hope will be a success will be a disappointment.

Finally, hollyhocks are a biennial so they grow the first year, flower the second and then last maybe one more year before they die. If the soil is right, they will continue to reseed themselves. They don’t need special soil to make it and  their fussy reputation usually involves getting them started as you describe.

I hope this helps a little. In the old days, every barn door, back door, outhouse had a planting of hollyhocks, usually accompanied by bumblebees and buzzing. Individual pictures below.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener

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