Hollyhocks, anyone ?

philomena(z 5A NY)March 2, 2007

I always love tall plants, and every year I look at Hollyhocks, but don't plant them, as I thought they were a deer magnet. I just did some quick Googling around, and hollyhocks are on many deer-resistant lists. But, as we all know, deer do not read those lists :-) so they sometimes do eat things we think they will not.

So again, I look for voices of experience - has anyone had luck growing hollyhocks in the Hudson Valley ? I would love to start some Hollyhock Alcea nigra this year and hope for the gorgeous virtually-black flowers next year !


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The deer ate my hollyhocks down to the ground. Sorry about that!
In my experience deer will eat just about everything - including hellebores which are poisonous. They did pass on foxgloves, lily-of-the-valley, echinops, artemisia, nepeta, agastache...
I now have a deer fence and am growing both the black hollyhock and the ficafolia ones which are rust resistant - but not immune. The latter are mostly shades of yellow.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 6:36PM
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corapegia(z5 NY)

I've been growing the regular, old fashion ones for a number of years, they self seed which I help along. The deer do eat mine when they wander through in the early spring and in fall but it's when there is less "green" to eat. I suspect the woodchuck and rabbits might also eat it. Mine get rust as well. But I love the colors, all pale pastels now including some really wonderful pale coral, and some yellow. (got the seed for the yellow from the Senate House garden in Kingston 10-12 years ago.) Might as well admit it publicly, my garden is very far from perfect, weedy at times but it's kind of a "survivors" garden. Although I bought some of the plants, most come from other gardens and other people.

Did you ever make "ballet dancers" from the open blossoms, using closed buds for the heads? They grew behind the barn at my g'mother's and they grow on the roadside bank in front of an old stone farm house near where I live now. The farmers in that house sell eggs and farmed with a team of horses up until 15 or so years ago. Hollyhocks look exactly right there, especially with the bantam chickens running around among them.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2007 at 8:59AM
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hudsonview(z5 NY)

The deer ate mine as well, but they are not a favorite - a low piece of fence was enough to discourage them. They passed on my hellebores and artemisia but ate the lily-of-the-valley...

    Bookmark   March 4, 2007 at 9:53PM
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makalu_gw(z5b NY)

Deer ate them right to the ground ... even when I tried to hide them behind the valerian. It wasn't a good fall for my unprotected beds - the deer ate jerusalem artichokes, spilanthes, most of the coreopsis, nibbled the rosemary and even some of the rosemary. This was a test bed though so I didn't mind too much. The only things that were completely untouched were valerian, horehound and lemongrass.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 7:04AM
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philomena(z 5A NY)

Thanks to everyone for all the replies - looks like I may have to console myself with sneaking some hollyhocks into one of my sister's gardens - the area's they live in are a little too urban-suburban for deer to wander through. Since I push the deer envelope enough with my lily beds, I don't want to provide too much incentive for them to stop. Last year I was very lucky and didn't have much damage at all, so I am hoping they don't rebound this year. I know they are still wandering thru as I noticed over the weekend some stems chomped off a holly, and some naked evergreen euonymous stems.

On a side note, I'm not having too much hope this year for my hellebore - they began blooming in January, and now, after the snow/ice melted off them, they look just about dead - I've never seen the leaves look so poor. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for new growth once it warms up for real again, but things look quite sad right now :-(


    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 2:05PM
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corapegia(z5 NY)

I hope you will update your hellebore info in a couple of weeks. My red one (I have the variety noted somewhere) started blooming back in Jan when it was still so warm. It's under snow right now so I hope that will protect it somewhat. I hope we dont loose too many plants because of this weird, dry, warm, then too cold winter.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 10:26AM
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philomena(z 5A NY)

Well, all my snow is melted off the flower beds, and I do see some life back in my hellebore. But I don't think this will be a banner year. My largest, most mature plant (about 5 years old) does have blossoms and looks like it will be OK. But most of my others, which are about 2 or 3 years old are not doing as well - at least so far. I see two or three blossoms here and there, and it looks like there are some buds coming thru. They are still wieghed down a bit with dead, wet leaves, so I'll have to see how it goes after a few more days.

The daffodils and hyacinth are awake and punching thru, but the foilage is definitely anemic and looks quite stunted, after having been frozen in place after that January warm weather. Some of the hyacinth foliage looks like cooked, wilted spinach ! Hopefully some new leaves will start coming up, or I think next year the flowers will be a lot less vigorous.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 6:26AM
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corapegia(z5 NY)

My snowdrops, winter aconite, and small crocuses are blooming like crazy. I'm glad your hellebore have survived. Mine were looking like that back before the last 18" snow but the vole living under the deck took the opportunity to eat every bit of the hellebore, girdle the fothergilla that had been growing happily for 15 years, and most of the Dutchess of Albany clematis (looks like I have one shoot that survived and maybe I'll get more) and it tunnelled into the bottom of a maidenhair fern I had just planted last fall. I HATE VOLES even more than lying groundhogs. At least it seems to have ignored some seedling hellbore.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 4:53PM
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