Q: I would love to grow hollyhocks from seed. Are they easy or difficult to cultivate and what’s the best way to go about trying?
A: If you really want to grow a hollyhock, there’s not a lot to stop you. Most hollyhocks are technically biennials – producing leaves the first year and flowers the next. However they often last longer than two years and so can be described as short-lived perennials.
Hollyhocks are old cottage garden favourites and seem especially at home in corners and narrow flower borders near walls where they are protected in the winter. They are very drought resistant.
Hollyhock seed is large, and easy to handle. Sow it in trays filled with sandy soil to within 1 cm of the rim then cover with 1 cm of compost. Place the trays in a cold frame and shade them if the weather is warm. When sowing in spring a greenhouse or warm frame is an advantage.
As hollyhocks grow tall and are often exposed to the full force of the wind, it pays to provide strong stakes as support.
Hollyhocks love a deep, rich, loamy soil – but they will often thrive without it.
If you water hollyhocks during the summer months give them a thorough soaking, followed by a mulch of well rotted manure.