Gardens

Starting Hollyhock Seeds in 6 Steps

60 - Hollyhock.jpg

You can obtain hollyhock seeds from a neighbor's plant or at a nearby garden center. Hollyhocks are tall, abundantly flowering plants that will add color and deep green foliage to any garden. Hollyhocks are available in varieties that produce flowers of many colors and are hardy in virtually all gardening zones. Read on to find out tips about starting hollyhock seeds indoors.

Step 1:    Find Out if You Have Biennial or Perennial Hollyhocks

Biennial hollyhocks will bloom only every 2 years, whereas perennials will bloom annually. Both types will self-seed once they have flowered. You should be able to get hollyhock blooms in the first year you have them outdoors by starting indoors the previous fall.  

Step 2:     Prepare the Hollyhock Seeds for Planting

In the late summer or early fall, obtain your seeds.  Plant them in pots 12 inches or more deep as the hollyhock develops long root systems. Use an excellent quality garden soil with good drainage. Fill the pots with the garden soil,  mixed with a bit of vermiculite. Sprinkle 2 or 3 seeds into the top of eah container, cover with soil to a depth of 1/4 inch, then water till all the soil is damp.  Set the pots in a sunny window, and rotate them often so all get equal sunlight.
Alternatively, put several seeds in a fine-gauge clear plastic bag with soil, and moisten till damp. Seed germination will start within 2 weeks. Keep the bag in a sunlit spot, so the roots can develop.

Step 3:    Choose the Location to Transplant

Take the successful seedlings outdoors a few weeks after the final frost. Find a location with plenty of sunlight and soil with little or no clay. If you can, select a spot with a fence or wall at the back of of the hollyhock plantings so the seedlings will be supported and screened from wind.

Step 4:    Transplant the Hollyhock Seedlings

In the garden, dig very deep holes about 18 inches apart, and 12 inches deep. The hollyhock is a tall plant, reaching 5 feet or taller quickly, so it needs this deep foundation to stand up straight. Insert the seedling gently into the ground, spreading out its roots. Add compost and garden soil, and pack it down around the root and stem. With enough water, the seedlings will be successful and may flower in the first year. If you get only vegetation and no flowers, do not be discouraged. Once they have overwintered in the cold they will bounce back and bloom profusely next spring.

Step 5:    Next Year's Flowers

If you want the hollyhocks to self-seed and perpetuate their growth, allow the flowers to die back rather than deadheading. If not, then snip the flower heads back immediately after they fade, before the seed pods form.

Step 6:      Harvest Seeds from the Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks form stiff pods for their seeds in late summer . When these turn brown they are ready to be collected. Open the pods and pull out the black seeds. Dry them in labeled trays, and put them away in paper bags to plant next spring.

60 - Hollyhock.jpg

Photo copyright Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org)