During the summer months, there are few plants
which add to the beauty of a garden like a hollyhock. Hollyhocks are tall, showy flowering plants in the mallow family which are used in gardens all over the world, particularly to provide depth and texture to an old fashioned garden. They come in annual, semi-annual, and perennial varieties, depending on the species, and will readily reseed, sometimes appearing in strange places and being mistaken for flowering weeds. When hollyhock plants
are growing in conditions that they enjoy, the plants will achieve impressive heights and put out a profusion of flowers in colors such as purple, pink, white, red, and yellow. The flowers appear to be native to Asia, although they have been cultivated in Europe for centuries. The name “hollyhock” has been used to refer to the flowers in England since the 13th century, although it was originally spelled holihoc, a portmanteau of holi, for holy, and hoc, for mallow. The plant was also referred to as St. Cuthbert's Cole, suggesting that it may have been included in religious gardens such as those at churches and monasteries.
Gardeners grow hollyhock plants
from seed and seedlings, and many set aside hollyhock seeds to grow in the following year. The flowers prefer full sun and well-drained soil, with infrequent, deep watering, and they should be grown with a little bit of space so that the stalks do not interfere with each other. Hollyhocks grow in USDA Zones four through 10, and they are relatively hardy, although they are susceptible to fungal infections.
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