How to Grow Hollyhock From Seed

Plants & Flowers
Hollyhock From Seed

Hollyhock is a gorgeous plant that you can have in your garden. It grows tall, and it provides a great plant for fences or doorways. It is often grown at the back o the flowerbeds. Hollyhock plants are not difficult to care for, but you need to follow a few simple steps if you wish to make them thrive.

In general, Hollyhock plants are started from seed. It is important to know how and when to germinate the seeds, and how to transplant the seedlings into your garden if you haven't already started them outdoors. Keep in mind that these seeds need light to grow, so when sowing, do not cover them with much soil.

Planting the Hollyhock Seeds

You should sow the seeds during the spring. It takes about 9 weeks from the sowing to the time when seedlings are big enough to be transplanted to the garden. Before sowing, you should prepare them to increase the chances of germination. Hollyhock seeds are large and have a tough seed coat, so it helps to soak them in warm water before sowing. They should be soaked in water that is about 113 degrees F for about 12 hours. This will improve your success, because more seeds will manage to germinate. It will also speed up the sprouting process. If you are in a rush, you may even try hot water for about 30 minutes.

Another way to go is to sow seeds by simply breaking and scattering dried pods outdoors, then there is no need to soak the seeds in water. The elements will break the outer shell and cause the seed to germinate on its own.

If you wish to start Hollyhock seeds indoors, sow them in late winter, about 9 weeks before the last predicted frost. You should use individual pots, because Hollyhock plants tend to develop long taproots that will not transplant well.

You should use a seed-starting mix with a bit of sand added in. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and place the pots on a windowsill that receives enough sun. Make sure to keep the soil slightly moist until the seeds germinate.

Alternatively, you may choose to sow the seeds directly in the garden. Do it about 1 to 2 weeks before the last frost date. You can simply scatter the seeds where you want your plants to grow. They don't transplant well so make sure to choose a place you really like and that is appropriate for Hollyhock plants. The seeds will germinate when the outside temperatures are high enough. However, keep in mind that these plants will probably not bloom for another year.

Another way to go is to sow the seeds outdoors in the autumn. Similarly to the above, sprinkle the seeds onto the soil. Cover very lightly with soil. Make sure that your chosen spot contains a lot of nutrients. You may amend it with rich compost for the best results. The seeds will sprout in the spring when the soil warms. These plants will probably produce flowers in the first year.

Transplanting Seedlings

Once you have your seedlings, the next thing to think about is transplanting them into your garden. You ca skip this step if you sowed the seeds into the ground, but if you started them indoors, it is important to choose the best moment to transplant your new plants into the garden.

For the best results, do it when the Hollyhock seedlings are small and before they have a chance to develop long taproots. Once that these roots are developed, the Hollyhock doesn't transplant well, so you need to pay attention.

One thing you can do is to always sow one seed per container - this way, the transplantation will cause less stress to your plant and its roots. Ideally, you will use biodegradable containers to grow your Hollyhock plants, so you can plant the seedlings along with their containers into your garden. This is a great approach, because it does not disturb the plant roots.

When transplanting Hollyhock plants to your garden, make sure to choose a good spot. Keep in mind that these plants are tall, so they are ideal for the back of a border or flowerbed. They can be grown by gates, along fences or you may position them next to doorways.

Caring for Hollyhock

Once seedlings are transplanted into the garden, you should provide a regular care for them. Ideally, the soil should be neutral and rich in nutrients, so pay attention to that before planting. They need a sunny spot, and make sure to provide your young plants with enough moisture.

Probably the most important factor you need to provide is air circulation. Because of this, make sure not to plant your Hollyhock seedlings too close to hedges and other structures.

A few weeks after transplanting, your Hollyhock seedlings should establish their roots. After this, the plants will need only routine care, and you will not need to spend much time caring for them.

To make your plants thrive, keep them well fed and watered. You should provide fertilizer a few times during the growing season.

The blooms may appear during the first growing season. In this case, the flowers might be too heavy to support the plant, so you may use stakes or other supporting structures. Similarly, if the plants get too tall, use a stake or another supporting structure.

Always allow established plants to self-seed if you wish to keep growing Hollyhock from year to year. Alternatively, you may scatter the seeds on the ground at the end of the growing season.

These plants are generally healthy, but they are prone to one disease: rust. This is a leaf disease that is more common in older plants. You can keep the disease in check by careful monitoring of your plants and, if necessary, replacing plants every few years.

Photo credit: Kim MyoungSung

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