Hollyhocks, with their bright, trumpeted flowers are easy to grow. They usually are described as biennial, but sometimes they are considered perennials. Hollyhocks are also known as Alcea rosea. They belong to the Malvaceae family that includes flowers and plants such as cotton, okra and hibiscus.
Biennial and Perennial Characteristics
Biennial hollyhocks will not bloom until they have gone through a cold season. During the first year, they grow and appear as a vegetative plant. The second year they bloom. The plants may have some problems during the second year if they experienced a harsh winter during the first. In addition, hollyhocks sometimes behave like perennials when they grow in mild-weather areas. This is because the Althaea rosea seeds itself, giving the impression of a perennial. In general, hollyhocks bloom from June until August.
Optimal Growing Conditions
Encourage your hollyhocks to bloom the full June through August blooming season by preparing optimal growing conditions for the plant. For example, hollyhocks enjoy lots of sunlight and soil that is well drained. Plant your hollyhocks in the back of the garden so that they have less of a chance of contracting a disease. Hollyhocks are vulnerable to damage from rust disease, which causes them to wilt and turn yellow or red.
Using floral or plant cutters, snip off hollyhock dead blossoms. This process is called deadheading, and helps extend bloom time into the early fall. If your hollyhocks are wilting, they may be infected with a plant disease. Cut off leaves that have turned yellow or red. When the plants finish blooming in August, cut them near to the ground. They will grow back next season.
The hollyhock is a repeat bloomer. This means that it continues to form new buds and bloom throughout the growing season of June through August, or later. Urge the growth of new buds during late spring by pinching off the tips of your hollyhock stalks when the buds are just poking out. Doing this encourages the hollyhock to fill shorter stems with more flower buds that continue to bloom for a longer period.