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Alcea rosea (photo courtesy of Rob D. Brodman)
Alcea rosea (photo courtesy of Rob D. Brodman)

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Zone
Zones 1-24
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular Water
Moderate

Alcea rosea

Hollyhock
Malvaceae
Perennials, Flowers

This old-fashioned charmer from the Mediterranean region is best against a fence or wall or at the back of a border. Old single varieties can reach 9 ft. tall; newer strains and selections are shorter. Big, rough, roundish leaves, slightly lobed, form a clump to about 3 ft. wide. Summer flowers are 3–6 in. wide along upright stems; they may be single, semidouble, or double and come in colors including white, pink, rose, purple, red, creamy yellow, and apricot. Chater’s Double is a fine perennial strain; 6-ft. spires have 5–6-in.-wide flowers. Biennials treated as annuals that bloom the first year from seed include 5–6-ft.-tall Summer Carnival, with double flowers, and 2 1/2-ft.-tall Majorette.

Sow seeds in ground in late summer for next season’s bloom; seed annual strains in early spring for bloom that summer. After flowers fade, cut stalks just above the ground; continue to feed and water plants to encourage late summer or early fall rebloom. Plants often self-sow. Destroy any rust-infected leaves as soon as disease appears. Watch for slugs and snails.

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