How to Cut Back a Perennial Hollyhock Flower

Written by patricia johnson
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Hollyhocks give gardens a cottage charm. In a sunny location against a fence their tall bell-shaped flowers become an enchanting focal point. Hollyhocks are easy to winter over in a garden if properly cut back. Follow the steps below to cut back the plant for another year's enjoyment. Hollyhocks will bloom in colours ranging from white, pink, red and yellows through purple. Hybrids resist fungal rust and pests. Originally from Asia, hollyhocks are grown both as perennials and some species as biennials. Hollyhocks may seed themselves in the garden, so look for surprise flowers in the second and third years.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Garden trowel
  • Small shovel
  • Garden scissors
  • Garden gloves
  • Plant identifying markers
  • Graphite pencil
  • Stakes
  • Plastic bags or cartons
  • Water
  • Fertiliser
  • Mulch

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  1. 1

    After the first frost, cut the hollyhock stem(s) away at ground level.

  2. 2

    Remove any debris on the ground around the hollyhock area.

  3. 3

    Thoroughly water the roots around the base of the cut stem(s).

  4. 4

    Add extra soil to fill in around roots.

  5. 5

    Add perennial flower fertiliser that is high in phosphate to encourage root development. The nitrogen-phosphate-potash (NKO) ratio should be 0-20-0. Follow instructions on fertiliser for dosage; it's usually 2 teaspoons of granules per hollyhock.

  6. 6

    Mark the plant with an identifying sign. Write the name of plant on the marker, for instance, Red Hollyhock.

  7. 7

    After the soil freezes, add a three to four-inch deep layer of mulch. Add enough mulch so that the roots do not freeze.

  8. 8

    Water during the winter if the ground is not frozen. Then water when needed during the growing season.

  9. 9

    Use the same high phosphate fertiliser once a month during the growing season for the best bloom growth. Follow instructions on fertiliser for dosage--usually 2 teaspoons of granules per hollyhock.

Tips and warnings

  • Plant hollyhocks in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil.
  • Hollyhocks grown indoors and then planted outside usually bloom the first year.
  • Some more interesting specimens of hollyhocks can only be grown by the buds around the crown of the roots on the parent plant. To get these specimens next year, collect the seed in the fall and start the seeds inside in the spring, then transplant outside when all danger of frost is gone.
  • Divide hollyhock plants in late fall so transplanted hollyhocks can establish good root systems before winter.
  • Old-fashioned varieties of hollyhocks usually have a single stalk and are taller.
  • For perennials purchase either old-fashioned varieties or new perennial hybrids.
  • Organic mulches are best for hollyhocks.
  • Protect against rust fungus by removing damaged foliage and using fungicides.
  • Stake tall hollyhocks and those grown in windy areas to avoid damage to stalks. Support hollyhocks even when planted against a fence.
  • Use sufficient layers of mulch according to garden zone recommendations.

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