Hollyhocks can be classified as three general types. There are the traditional or "Old
Fashioned" hollyhocks that have been around for years. My favorite type are the
"Doubles" which have a carnation-like bloom. The third type are "Miniatures" which
only grow 2 to 3 feet tall.
Old Fashioned Hollyhocks:
The "Old Fashioned" type of hollyhock have been around for years. They can grow 5
to 7 feet tall. They should be planted along a fence or in front of a building that will
shield some of the wind. Hollyhocks grow best in full sun with well drained soil to limit
root rot and fungus problems. They like lots of water, but should not be setting in
water. The traditional flower color was white, but are available in different colors.
My favorite type of hollyhock are the "Doubles" or "Double Flowering". They have a
carnation-like bloom that is available in pretty much any color. These too will grow 5 to
7 feet tall. They should be planted the same as the "Old Fashioned" hollyhocks.
"Miniatures" hollyhocks are now available and will only grow 2 to 3 feet tall. These are
good for small flower gardens. In addition to having smaller stalks, these plants also
have smaller flowers.
Growth and Propagation of Hollyhocks:
Hollyhocks grow from a crown type of root system. They may be considered as
annuals, biennials, or even perennials depending on the growing conditions and
variety. There are two things to remember with hollyhocks. First of all, the roots must
be well developed and store lots of energy before the plants will flower. The second
thing is that the plant will usually die once they flower and develop seed.
Hollyhocks are usually considered to be biennials. The first year the seeds will grow
into a leafy plant, but will not flower. The leaves produce energy which is stored in its
developing root system. The second year the plants will have enough stored energy to
produce a flowering stalk. The plant will then die after producing seed. Hollyhocks are
self seeding and new plants will usually pop up the following spring.
Hollyhocks are sometimes considered to be annuals. They may develop flowering
stalks the first year if the roots can store enough energy early in the season. Climate,
fertilizer, and plant variety will affect the development of the root system. Most garden
centers sell hollyhock crowns which will also develop much quicker than planting seed.
Some people claim hollyhocks can be grown as perennials. They say to dead head the
flowers before they produce seed. Then the plant will be forced to grow another year. I
have had some plants come back another year after producing some flowers.
I personally had a hard time getting crowns purchased at a popular discount store to
grow. The first year none of the crowns made any attempt to grow. They were
replaced under warranty the second year. With the second batch, I ended up with a
50% survival rate with 1/3 of the plants developing some flowers. These plants came
back the third year with only one seedling coming up. I planted more crowns the third
year and spread the seeds from the flowers that developed.
Hollyhocks are subject to cross pollination. It is possible for seeds to produce flowers
that are different in color, or shape, than the parent plant. I like the look of having
mixed colors in the same patch. In theory, this will increase the chance of having cross
Caring for Hollyhocks:
Hollyhocks require basic weeding, and inspecting for bugs or disease. They have a
reputation for attracting bugs and disease. They like lots of water in well drained soil.
A good flower fertilizer will make a difference. If the patch is heavily mulched, you may
want to collect, and then plant the seeds manually.
This page was developed to share my gardening and landscaping experience with
others. The site contains only general information on different plants. I do not
guarantee all information to be accurate. I do not accept any responsibility for
anyone's growing success. Please consult with your plant or seed supplier for detailed