Posts Tagged ‘alcea’

Growing happy hollyhocks

June 7th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Hollyhock (Alcea) 'Chaters Doubles'

So. Hollyhocks. Mine are just about to start opening and now’s the time to sow seed. Sounds odd, doesn’t it, to be sowing seed of biennials at a time of year when plants in the garden have not even started to ripen their seed.

In fact you can sow this month or next and this will give you large, well developed plants to overwinter and which are best placed to survive the almost inevitable attack from hollyhock rust.

For rust will surely strike, covering the shrivelling foliage with rusty coloured blisters. It struck mine so a couple of weeks ago I stripped off all the diseased leaves. If I hadn’t thoughtlessly pulled most of them up when they were tiny, the self sown larkspurs would have hidden the bare stems.

Hollyhocks come in three main types: tall biennials with single flowers (‘Giant Single Mixed’) and tall biennials with double flowers (‘Chaters Double Mixed’) – these are the ones to sow now – and short annuals with double flowers (‘Majorette’) to sow in spring.

Sow the seed thinly this month, in a short row outside, in the veg garden perhaps or in a bright space at the back of the border. Thin the plants to about 20cm apart then in September move them carefully to their final positions.

They can also be sown in pots and then the seedlings moved into individual pots but the plants will become quite large and may well need 12cm pots, or larger, to accommodate the vigorous roots.

If rust shows its ugly self then there are sprays approved for dealing with the problem. The RHS recommends Provanto Fungus Fighter Concentrate, Provanto Fungus Fighter Plus, Toprose Fungus Control & Protect, Scotts Fungus Clear Ultra and Scotts Fungus Clear Ultra Gun. You can find out more about hollyhock rust, and an organic approach, on the RHS website.

But don’t let rust put you off – and be sure to allow your larkspur to self sow in the right spot.