Hollyhock almost finished--Now what?

robolink(z7 OK)July 1, 2005

My hollyhock (my first) appears to be near its end for blooming.

What is your experience with seedlings coming back next year? (self-sown)

Or do you save the seeds and plant where you want a new one to be? (and when?)

What is your experience with blooming the next year?

Do you cut the stalk and just leave the plant?

Lots of questions, I know. But you guys are really good with answers and suggestions!

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I think OkieDawn and OKPrairie are the experts, but I usually go ahead and sow seeds now, so they will bloom next year. In fact, my nigra is almost finished, but there are so many seed pods, I have already sown some of them.

I really want the fig-leaf perennial hollyhock. I kind of have a tendency to sometimes forget to plant the biennials, so sometimes I have them blooming every other year. Hopefully the ones I have sown now will germinate. I have found that hollyhock seeds (for me only; don't know about anyone else), do not have a high rate of germination. I planted a whole packet of nigra last year, and only one came up. When it came up, it produced this weird tube-like growth that kept getting longer and longer. It felt rough to the touch, and eventually out of this tube-like appendage, came smaller tube-like appendages, at the end of which the flowers arose. They were not nigra - they are a dark raspberry color, but my friend and I have decided it must have a virus or something due to the distorted growth. Anyone else experience this? I bought a nigra plant also last year and it was fine, but this other one looked almost, well, otherworldly, Martian'ish, skinny but without a head.

Ah, well. I would indeed go ahead and sow seeds now, so your plants can get a good start for bloom next year.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2005 at 5:34PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Some years they re-seed and come back quite well and other years they don't. I never know what to expect.

I cut off the seed pods and throw them on the ground on top of the mulch in the hollyhock bed. Some of the seeds germinate every year, but I always plant new ones too, "just in case". I remove the stalks when the blooms are done. I'm afraid I don't give them much care or attention, just let them bloom and do their thing and then forget about them.

In the years when they re-seed, I will often see little hollyhock plants coming up in December or January. They stay quite small until it warms up, but they can take quite a bit of cold weather.

It seems the fig-leaved hollyhocks come back more reliably for me than the regular ones. My nigra comes back every year. One plant. Never more than that one unless I start new ones inside and transplant them outside in early spring.
And where do new hollyhocks come up the best? In the compost-enriched soil in the border? No. In the gravel driveway. It never fails. I wonder why? Excellent drainage, maybe?


    Bookmark   July 1, 2005 at 11:30PM
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Where you see the old fashioned hollyhocks blooming year after year on abandoned farms, they are generally plants that are pretty much left to themselves and reseed every year in the same place.
As a kid, we had a bunch of yellow, red, and white hollyhocks that grew at the edge of our front yard. I don't recall that my parents doing anything to them. I doubt they even cut down the stalks because they were growing between the dirt road and a rock retaining wall. Like you say, Dawn, they reseeded year after year in that poor soil at the side of the road!
Mine are from seeds given to me about six years ago and I have blooms every year.
Generally, I leave the stalks up until they have finished blooming. During really wet years, they are prone to mold, so I cut them down.
The seed pods dry from the bottom up, so by the time the top pods are dry, the bottoms have already dried and burst and the plant has reseeded itself.
I checked mine yesterday and the pods were damp with rain. So, a little more dry weather and they will reseed in the same place.
I'll gather the remaining dry pods, scatter a few where I want them, and give some to friends. If they come up where I don't want them, I dig up the plants and give them away.
Mine are a nice mix of light pink, medium pink, and deep magenta. I try to mix the seeds well when I give them away so friends get a mixture as well. But the surprise is always in giving away plants, since neither I nor the person I give them to knows what color they will be until they actually bloom!
They seem to benefit from rose food with systemic insecticide, as do hardy hibiscus and brugmansia.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2005 at 6:50AM
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Some designing insect loves to munch on my hollyhocks - there are always holes in the leaves (small ones), which I think might be caused by flea beetles. There are some butterflies that use hollyhock as a host plant and I keep looking for the little buggers, but haven't found any yet.

Did some yard cleanup this morning, cutting away the overgrown centaurea dealbata, lamb's ears, and removing some of the crabgrass from the beds. Watered and mulched the big planter with my achillea 'Moonshine', balloon flowers, phlomis fruticosa, and tucked in 3 Marguerite sweet potatoe plants. My passion vine is coming up in several different spots (cearulia), and think I will put my new pf 'Incense' on the easement close (but not too close) to my hisbiscus 'Fantasia'. My Texas Star hibiscus is about to bloom. I pinched the growing tips back this year to get a fuller plant, thinking that it would not get as tall, but be bushier? Well, it's gonna just be fuller, but just AS tall. This thing loves to tower above the rest of the plants in that bed.

Daturas are finally getting about 8" tall now (reseeds). My lovely lilies are all finished blooming for the year, but I think the lilium 'Flore Pleno' is going to bloom. The buds look so odd - like wet, glistening drops of amber. I think that the disporum 'Night Heron' is going to come back from it's run in with the lawn mower.

I'm trying to decide where to put the A. 'Giant Thailand' if I get one. If not now, the second batch which will be ready in about 4-6 weeks. I also ordered A. 'Ruffles', which I understand is a very vigorous grower, so I'll be happy to share if anyone wants.

I'm going to be running out of "perfect" spaces before long. Mmmmmm.....wonder if my neighbor would like to have his yard landscaped!

P.S. - does anyone know where I can get a sassafras tree?


    Bookmark   July 2, 2005 at 11:53PM
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robolink(z7 OK)

See? I knew you all would know the answers to my questions! Thanks so much. What a wealth of experience we have here!

My hollyhock is a beautiful deep crimson, but my d-i-l and my daughters have other colors, so we will trade seeds. All of our plants have some insect damage (stink bugs seem to like them).

I have Google Imaged the nigra and figleaf and all of the plants you mentioned, Susan. Wow! Those are some I've never heard of. Sources please? The nigra is especially unusual and beautiful. I've never seen a figleaf around here.

My plant shopping is usually limited to the Edmond area, so I'll be happy to learn where you get some of your more unusual things. And I'll always be happy to trade----sure hope I can make it to the swap this fall!!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2005 at 8:57AM
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Hey, robolink - you're welcome to come by my house and pull some seed pods off my nigra if you want. I think OkieDawn has the figleaf hollyhock and if you catch her on the forum, you might ask for a few seeds of it as well. She's pretty generous with her seeds. I know that the figleaf is perennial, unlike most hollyhocks which are biennial (grow first year, but no bloom; bloom second year), which is why we talk about planting the seeds this year, so we will get the green growth out of the way to make way for the flowers next year.



    Bookmark   July 3, 2005 at 12:14PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I'll bring figleaf hollyhock seeds to the seed swap in the fall. One of my favorite seed sources is Seed Savers Exchange as they have old, hardy varieties. I also like the seeds from Select Seeds, which also deals mostly in seeds of heirloom varieties. You can go to either website by googling, but I went ahead and linked Select Seeds here, as it is less well-known and I have gotten some seeds of lovely heirloom varieties of flowers from them over the years.


Here is a link that might be useful: Select Seed website

    Bookmark   July 5, 2005 at 4:16PM
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I have used Select Seeds in the past - very good. However, I get most of mine locally now at TLC. They have a great selection of seeds, including all of the big names and Botanical Interests which are mostly the heirloom varieties.

I'll bring some nigra.


P.S. I got confirmation that I will receive one of the Thai Giant colocasias from PD. YIPPEE!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2005 at 9:05PM
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robolink(z7 OK)


If I don't contact you before, I'll get some nigra from you at the swap. I'll bring some other colors as well to trade. I was looking at my d-i-l's deep purple hollyhock the other day, and I think it may be a fig-leaf. It's leaves sure look different than mine anyway.

I checked out that Thai Giant and it's ENORMOUS!!! Hope you can get us some pictures when it grows. My elephant ears have a couple of leaves that are about 3 feet, so I can't imagine what that thing will do!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 8:53AM
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Hello everyone, This year I started my hollyhocks from seed and right now they are only around 2 feet tall.
I'm wondering if they should be cut back or do I just let them die off & they will come up next Spring? I want them to bloom next year because I babied them all summer.
Have no idea what to do so I will really appreciate any feed back.
Thank you!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 2:42AM
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Serbie, they are biennials, so they will come back up next spring, get much taller, and bloom. I would just let them die back, and late fall when the foliage has turned brown, remove it if you want. Sometimes, I think leaving the foliage on during the winter protects the roots.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 1:48PM
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Susan, Thank you for the information. Now I can relax about my hollyhocks and let nature take over for the winter.

This is the 2nd time I replied to you but I didn't get the final submit button hit the first time. LOL!
I really appreciate the info.
Happy growing!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2006 at 2:08AM
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