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FLOWER

Monday, November 13, 2006

PLANTING AND GROWING HOLLYHOCKS

Hollyhocks are a biennial, producing clumps of rough-textured leaves the first year from seed and tall flower stalks the next year. The flowers open from tightly wrapped buds beginning at the bottoms of the stalks and progressing toward the tops, producing a summer-long display. Hollyhocks sometimes are short-lived perennials and self-sow. The self-sown plants often differ from the original plant. You can also plant seeds in the fall or spring. Flowers of hollyhocks may be single, double, or even semidouble and are yellow, white, rose, pink, red, lavender, and almost black. There are hollyhocks along a car wash in town that are all red. They are a beautiful scene as you drive by. Flowers may be ruffled or fringed. The old-fashioned types can reach 12 feet tall; modern hybrids grow 2 to 8 feet tall and 18 inches wide. The best place for hollyhocks are in the background of gardens. I have them planted at the back of my perennial garden in front of a white lattice panel.

Hollyhocks require full sun, fertile, well-drained soil; water and fertilize regularly. Plants usually need staking. Rust fungus, Japanese beetles and spider mites disfigure foliage, but not flowers; pest control needed.

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