Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hollyhocks in bloom

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

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.


  1. The last couple of times I've grown hollyhocks, the plants got that awful rust. Thanks for the tips on how to deal with that, I'll keep them in mind for the future.

    1. Ally, I can't say for certain it'll work for you, but it works for me. I'll have seeds to share soon.

  2. My Mom loved Hollyhocks and had several different colors of them. They always seemed to grow where you didn't want them. They would get so heavy with blooms and hang over in the way. She didn't mind as her mind set on gardens, like mine, is make people touch the plants as they walk through the garden. Yours look lovely, just like my Mom's.

  3. So beautiful--I love hollyhocks, although I haven't had them in my gardens here, I grew up with them and they're such a nice, old-fashioned, cottage garden plant.

  4. I do love hollyhocks. But, I've never had much success with them. I might try again. They're very drought tolerant in New Mexico, so maybe would work here.
    Yours are lovely. And, thanks for the tips on fighting the rust.