Reaching for the Sky: Hollyhocks

I have been waiting for this pink hollyhock to finish flowering and for its seeds to ripen. At last it has, and I’ve cut down the old stems and taken them away to a sunny, sheltered spot where I’m hoping it will seed itself around. (I need to clear the hollyhock’s space so that it can become part of a new bog garden.)

The plant was the offspring of a series of hollyhocks that have self-sown in the area for the last few years. Originally I had planted a few seedlings bought at a community plant sale. I can’t now remember what colour the flowers were. Possibly yellow, because I do remember some very pretty double yellow flowers and it seems likely that they would eventually revert to producing plants with single flowers.

This year there was only the one plant. That’s probably a result of all the disturbance of having the fence renewed last year. But this single plant was much bigger than any of the previous hollyhocks. When I cut the stems, I measured the longest and found that it had reached a height of 10 feet. (Hollyhocks do grow tall, but are more likely to be 6 to 8 ft.) It was lucky that it hasn’t been windy enough to blow the stems over!

There’s a lot of discussion about whether hollyhocks are biennial or perennial. (They don’t flower until their second year.) The RHS says that they are short-lived perennials, so I’m happy to go with that. But I haven’t tried to move the hollyhock to a new position because they have deep tap roots and don’t like to be disturbed.

A reddish-pink hollyhock flower

If there’s time next year, I may grow some new plants from seed. I’d love to have a range of colours, including pale yellow, the really dark purples, and strong pinks like the flower above. This one sadly wasn’t in my garden, but was photographed outside a pretty cottage a few years ago. (I’ve seen a wonderful range of colours outside some of the pretty medieval cottages in the villages around here…the tall flowers and quaint cottages seem to go so well together!)

Whatever colours I might fancy in hollyhocks, the bees seemed happy with this year’s pink. This plant has attracted many bees, so that would be a good reason for keeping some of the same shade – and a good reason for growing varieties with single flowers rather than the doubles. If I manage to grow hollyhocks in a number of different colours, I must take note of which they prefer – could be an interesting little project!

25 thoughts on “Reaching for the Sky: Hollyhocks

    1. Thanks Liz! I’m delighted with your reaction – makes posting these pics feel truly worthwhile. πŸ™‚ (And lets hope for more hollyhocks in future…)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hollyhocks seem to suit the soil and climate here – lots in some of the older villages, where they’ve probably grown for a long time. This is the first time I’ve had such a tall one – it really surprised me!

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  1. I loved the hollyhock seed pods when I was a child. I remember them being papery and fuzzy, with all of those seeds perfectly lined up. I was surprised to read your mention of yellow. I went to look, and sure enough; there they were. I always think of hollyhocks as pink or white, probably because that’s what we grew in our garden. That strong pink is especially pretty. I hope you have a good crop next year!

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    1. I think I may grow some more from a packet of seed, so that I can introduce some other colours. The way the seeds are packed in their fuzzy round pods appeals to me, and the perfect little circle of seeds. πŸ™‚

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    1. I’m hoping to notice what flowers do best with the bees and to grow more for them, so hopefully the garden will evolve to be a good place for bees and other insects. πŸ™‚

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  2. It’s lovely how the sun though the petals is lighting them up. Hollyhocks must be one of the most atmospheric cottage garden flowers, especially the really tall ones. I’m always happy to see them.

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    1. I agree – they look wonderful in a cottage garden and really suggest that style of garden to me. The height makes a great contrast to the shorter flowering plants too and comes in useful if you want something tall but not too bulky.

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      1. I usually don’t mind sharing, but lately the deer have been taxing my patience. They have attacked some of our aspen saplings to rub off or eat the bark, destroying a protective fence not once but three (!) times in the process! Sigh…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Deer sound very difficult to deal with! There aren’t many around here – too much intensive arable farming. There were a lot more in Scotland but they usually stayed away from houses.

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