Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) are impressive garden favourites that will add a hint of nostalgia to your landscape.
These plants originated in Europe and can be grown with little effort.
Purple Hollyhock photograph by Patrick; CC.
Perfect for adding a vertical element to your garden, hollyhocks are a low-maintenance, short-lived perennial.
Their stalks can reach 8-9 feet (2.5 m) high, causing them to tower above most other types of garden flowers.
Alcea rosea photograph by candiru.
Despite their height they generally do not require staking, although this may be necessary if they are in an area that has little to protect them from strong wind.
The Common Hollyhock is a member of the Malvaceae (mallows) family, and Alcea rosea plants are hardy in USDA Zones 2-10.
The saucer shaped blooms are between four to eight inches (10 to 20 cm) across and come in a variety of colours including white, purple, pink, red, and even blue.
Their bright green leaves are large and cordate (shaped like hearts), and they typically bloom in summer and early autumn / fall.
They help to add a touch of charm to gardens and are very effective when grown against fences or buildings as a backdrop.
Hollyhocks are also great for wildlife gardens as they are host plants for painted lady butterflies and will also attract other pollinators.
Hollyhock leaves and flowers, photograph by Dinesh Valke; CC.
Hollyhock requires a rich, well-drained soil with a medium amount of moisture and full sun for best results.
However if you live where the summer sun is scorching hot, then hollyhock plants would benefit from some afternoon shade.
These biennials will flower the second year.
Hollyhocks will seed themselves causing them to last in the garden for many years like perennials, so if you require more Alcea rosea in the garden next year be sure not to deadhead them until their seeds have fallen.
Seeds can also be collected and started indoors.
Alcea rosea white flowers, photograph by Dinesh Valke; CC.