Thursday, August 27, 2009

Garden Talks August 27-Hollyhocks,the annual biennial challenge!

Hello again,

I have not grown hollyhocks in my home garden but many of you do in Skillin's Country. We sell a great deal of hollyhocks and answer a lot of questions about them as well. SO, when Horticulture Magazine sent this neat little article about hollyhock care I was struck by the practicality of it and the fact that so many of you garden with the beautiful hollyhock. So here it is:

"I bought and planted some hollyhocks this year and they bloomed beautifully. Will they come back next year?

Answer: Hollyhocks (Alcea) are considered short-lived perennials or biennials. Your plants may return and bloom next year. You will also likely find some new seedlings sprouting in the area, because hollyhocks easily self-seed, making up for their relatively short perennial lifespan. These new seedlings may bloom next year or the following year if the species you’re growing is biennial.Hollyhocks are susceptible to hollyhock rust and other foliar problems. Removing the current year’s plants after the seed has dropped helps reduce the spread of these diseases in the following year. You will end up with fresh seedlings from the dropped seed, without the disease being carried over the winter by decaying foliage."

Simple advice: Let your hollyhock go to seed before doing any pruning of the plant. Once you see some new seedlings sprout up, you may be well on your way to another generation of hollyhocks. To help avoid hollyhock rust (it is nasty and can be prevalent in our humid coastal environment) clean up all the current year's plants.

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
August 27, 2009

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