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hollyhock

Stockrose kaufen pixabay

Hollyhocks (the botanical name of Alcea) are stately plants that grow up to two metres high and produce the perfect garden picture in the summertime. They belong to the Malvaceae (mallow) family. Colloquially, mallows are often called "peasant roses". This name refers to their traditional use in cottage gardens. If you want to buy hollyhocks, you will find a large selection of different varieties in the Lubera shop: https://www.lubera.co.uk/search?sSearch=Alcea

These classic summer flowers are available in many colours from white to pink and apricot to dark burgundy. In sunlight they produce a great luminosity and bring happiness to the garden. Maurice Maggi, a Swiss guerilla gardener, has helped the hollyhock in the city of Zurich to become famous by making the flower its trademark. Unrecognised in the 1980s, he began sowing mallows in the tree-grids of downtown Zurich and enchanted entire streets with his "flower graffiti". He set a standard for more nature in the city. Despite their striking appearance, the tall flower stems, which are densely covered with flowers in the summer, are very natural and not only fit in an ornamental bed, but also in natural gardens.  There is a lot of different information you can find about the origin of hollyhocks; according to Wikipedia, they could come from Asia and Europe

   
 
   
 
Hollyhock Mallow pixabay

Hollyhock: The Flowering Period

The high season for hollyhocks is June to October. However, it takes quite some time until they flower. This is because the hollyhocks are biennials, which only form a leaf rosette in the first year and in the following season they develop the flower stalks. For the most beautiful visual display they can be planted in groups.  Whoever mixes different varieties of hollyhocks together paints exciting pictures in the garden. Hollyhocks include varieties with simple flowers as well as those with double flowers. For example, the deep dark red Alcea rosea `Nigra` or the white variety Alcea rosea Spotlight-Series` Polarstar` has simple flowers. The varieties with double flowers include Alcea rosea `Pleniflora` in light pale yellow or Alcea rosea` Pleniflora` in pink. Hollyhocks like a sunny to partially shaded site with nutrient-rich, permeable soil. In the spring, composting boosts growth and flowering.

Sowing Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks are considered to be biennial, but may also flower partially and, depending on the variety, over several years if they are consistently cut back after flowering. However, if you want to gets seeds from the plants, you will need to leave the flower stems. Once the seed pods are ripe, they can be collected and sown in the following May in the desired place in the garden or in seed trays. If you leave the flowered stems, the mallows sow easily by themselves and you can later control with targeted weeding, where you want them and where you prefer not to. In the Lubera shop there is an assortment of different hollyhock seeds available for your garden, including the distinctive hollyhock `Nigra` with deep dark red petals.

When should you plant hollyhocks? If you buy ready-to-plant hollyhocks instead of seeds, they should be planted directly into a bed from May or even in autumn. The ideal distance between the individual plants is around 50 cm. Although hollyhocks are very deep-rooted, it is advisable to support them in the summer months with a stick so that they can withstand the wind well and not fall over. If you want to put a special display on your terrace, you can put hollyhocks in a container. In the first year, it is advisable to put the pot in a sheltered place during the winter and wrap it with bubble wrap or a mat made out of wood wool.

Pruning Hollyhocks

In order to increase the chances that the hollyhock will bloom for several years in a row, it is advisable to cut back the plant immediately after flowering so that no unnecessary strength is lost in the seed formation. However, it is also highly recommended to leave some of the stems that have bloomed during the winter. Not only are they beautiful to look at in the winter garden, they also provide shelter for insects.

Hollyhock Diseases

Hollyhocks are robust plants, but can be attacked by the mallow disease. Brown spots form on the upper side of the leaves as well as reddish spots on the underside of the leaves. Affected leaves must be removed and disposed of in the trash to prevent further spreading. Preventively, the mallows should never be too dry. Likewise, when watering, never wet the leaves, but water directly into the root area. The site should also be as open and sunny as possible, so that the leaves can dry quickly after a rain.

An Old Dye Plant and Medicinal Plant

The hollyhock has a long history in the field of medicine. It contains, among other things, tanning and mucilage and is considered to be anti-inflammatory. Mallow is used for inflammation of the respiratory tract, but also for indigestion. It is also a classic dye plant, which can be used as a food colouring and also for the natural dyeing of wool.

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