Large double shades of red and rose shades make this a showy display of flowers that seem to be popping with color. Shorter than their taller cousins, these varieties can fit gracefully into any garden plan, blooming its first year on sturdy stems. This Hollyhock is appropriately named - it is sure to become quite a 'Celebrity' in your garden. Less than 3 feet tall, these plants are well-branched and simply covered with big blooms over a long season.Home gardeners love its shorter habit because it is more contained than the traditional taller hollyhocks, and can be used in different parts of a garden.Gardeners are also wanting drought and heat tolerant flowers as they are becoming more and more available. These blooms are 2 1/2 inches to 3 inches wide that has an outer layer of wide flater petals that are topped off with a frilly center, looks as if it is pleated. It has been said that Hollyhocks are just as easy to grow as Sunflowers and more would be grown if more gardeners knew that Hollyhocks were that easy. Butterflies and bees flock to their center, further increasing the beauty of the display. And because this plant reaches only 24 to 28 inches and the flowering stems are quite stout and strong, you need never worry about staking or tying the blooms. Spring Celebrities fit nicely into an 8- or 10-inch pot, and are spectacular at the front of the sunny bed or border. Like all Hollyhocks, they appreciate very rich, well-drained soil, so prepare the planting area well or use a high-quality potting mix in containers. Feed them throughout the season for more blooms, Zones 5-9.
How To Plant and Grow Hollyhocks From Seeds
- Hollyhocks are generally planted in midsummer to autumn to give them a chance to establish a system during the winter months.
- Perennial Hollyhocks seeds need to be in the ground in late summer for next years bloom.Seeds can be sown directly into a prepared bed or can be started in pots in a cold frame or indoors, to be planted as transplants during spring.
- They must establish a root system first, and then they can produce the stalk(s) of flowers, for their first year they will bear leaves only. If sown early in the year they may bloom the same year, but sown midyear they will bloom the following summer.
- Sow seeds at 68°F on the surface of a peaty soil.(Peaty soil is a darker soil and feels damp and spongy due to its higher levels of peat. It is an acidic soil which slows down decomposition and leads to the soil having fewer nutrients. The soil heats up quickly during spring and can retain a lot of water which usually requires drainage. Drainage channels may need to be dug for soils with high peat content. Peat soil is great for growth when blended with rich organic matter,) the seed on the surface of well-tilled soil, cover with about 2mm (¼in) layer of soil.
- Keep moist and do not let the seeds dry out once planted. They will usually germinate in 2 to 3 weeks at 20°C (68°F).
- Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost.
- Be sure the roots are covered well with soil and that the flowers are 1½ to 2 feet apart. They will grow best in full sun to partial shade and need watered regularly.
- Hollyhocks have been known to cross-pollinate. Gardeners should only grow one variety at a time to save pure seed.
- After the growing season is over, you can cut back the Hollyhock to ground level. To assure that the plant does not die back completely, cover the area with mulch, in case the winter is harsh.
- When harvesting your own hollyhock seeds, allow the pods will tell you when the seeds are ready. Make sure that the seed pods are fully mature on the stalk before removing them. You will notice that the small stem which holds the seed pod starts to turn brown. Try not to pick seed pods until the papery shell turns a yellow or golden brown.
The seeds are all lined up together in a ring inside the seed pod. Gently peel open part of the flap that covers the seed ring. If the seeds are not dry and blackish, don't pick that pod. Once the seeds appear blackish and dry they are ready to be harvested. Use sharp garden scissors to cut the pods from the stalk then dry and store the seeds in paper bags until you are ready to plant them.
After the seed pods have dried and you find yourself with six foot tall empty stalks, simply cut the stalks to the ground. Don't panic, this is not an art form. Just cut off the dead stuff. This is not a growing requirement it just makes the garden look neat and tidy.