Flower of the week – Hollyhocks (A.Rosea)
Have you ever walked up a brick path to find a whimsical English Garden that makes you want to sit on the bench and have a spot of tea? If so, then these tall beauties are essential to the color and texture of your garden.
Most people think they’re perennials because they are prolific re-seeders and show up every year, but indeed, they are biennials, and if you start with seed, you may not see blooms until the second year.
They may be planted alone or in with a variety of other flowers and shrubs, depending on the look you’re going for in your garden. Since they are very tall plants that can reach 6 ft. or more, it would be wise to guard them from the wind and plant them in the back row, if you’re planting with other flowers.
Hollyhocks are drought resistant, love full sun and well-drained soil; hence, they are perfect for Santa Fe’s arid climate. But they do need water, so water every second day during the hot, dry summer months. Dead-heading (removal of dried up blooms) is required to produce bigger and more vibrant blooms. It also prevents their persistence to reproduce by removing the seeds that will definitely infiltrate your garden next season.
Keep a close eye on the plants for Hollyhock rust (Puccinia malvacearum), a fungal disease and don’t discard the affected leaves in the garden as the fungus will get into the soil and infect more plants. In the winter, make sure to remove any frozen stems. Once your Hollyhocks are finished blooming, prune them back to
Speaking of their prolific ways, you might want to plan your garden in advance to decide how many Hollyhocks you would like to have in it. These plants have tap-roots (one long root that grows deep), just like dandelions, so they are not easily removed. Even if you dig up most of that tap root, new plants may still grow off the remains.
Although they attract butterflies, they do not attract deer, which is another great reason to use them to add color to your garden.