By Joyce Corson
SYRACUSE — Have you ever planted your plants with great expectations, only to have no blossoms to show?
Hollyhocks, scientifically known as Alcea rosea, are gorgeous, eye-catching plants that will draw in pollinators of all kinds, if they show.
Many people are discouraged from growing hollyhock because unbeknown they’re biennial and they won’t grow flowers the first year. Who wants to wait two years to see blossoms? I don’t.
Growing hollyhocks is well worth the wait, since they develop beautiful flower stalks that will likely tower over you. Actually I’m still waiting. Early on in my garden growing years, I had total failure with hollyhocks. I’m not giving up and have decided to let the growers do the work. They will bloom because the grower got them started.
They can rest and wait, to bloom next year, while I buy the newly grown ready instantly to bloom hollyhocks. However, if the previous bloom again, I will be happy; if not I will care for them and let them recover in moist rich soil and full sun.
However, I’m doubtful and will buy new from the grower, knowing they will bloom. I’ve decided to grow them in this pattern and encourage the seeding off as well. Hopefully, I can get a colony started. Just be sure to ask, how old is this plant?
If you want instant flowering plants, try annuals like zinnias or marigolds, grow in one year from seed until seed pods form and seeds drop. These delight in being saved and used as a friend gift. Or better yet, buy perennials that return every year with seamless effort, like day lilies and gentian that love living by the lake.
Since they grow several feet tall, they work well along fences or serve as a natural privacy hedge along property lines. You may need to give your flowers stakes to protect them from damaging winds if you live in a windy area.
Hollyhocks were grown and valued in Elizabethan days and for the first half of the 19th century. A horticulturalist named Chater of Essex, England, worked for decades on improvements to the plant and developed Chater’s Double in the 1880s, one of the most popular hollyhocks of all time.
By the 1930s Hollyhocks were beginning to make a comeback. In 1939, Hollyhock Indian Spring was introduced and it remains the most popular single and semi-double mix of white and pink blooming hollyhocks available.
I’m hoping for a comeback as well.