It's hollyhock season in Central Texas. These beauties are offspring from a package of from Renee's Garden 'Indian Spring' hollyhocks I planted three or four years ago. They reseed like crazy and bloom the second year.
The stems are seven feet tall. Usually the blossoms are various shades of pink but this year they are all yellow. Usually the blossoms are single-petaled (like these) but year before last I had a few that were double-petaled.
Hollyhocks are very prone to rust, an orange-colored fungus that can overcome the entire plant. I battle rust spores by cleaning up all the old spent leaves and flower stems in the winter, and pulling up two-year old plants; everything goes in the trash. Then I lay newspapers underneath the one-year old plants and cover the papers with a fresh layer of compost. This seems to keep the spores buried so they can't splash up onto the lower leaves when it rains. In the spring, I ruthlessly pluck off every leaf that shows even one spot of rust. The plants don't seem to mind the defoliation and will sprout new, rust-free leaves.
Words and photos © 2009-2012 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.