The large bell-shaped flower of the hollyhock provides impressive color to garden beds. Hollyhocks produce multiple blooms along tall flower stalks, adding vertical touches to the bed. Most hollyhocks are perennials that bloom their brightest in the second year. Flowering declines in the third year so the plants are usually replaced with new ones. Hollyhocks are often planted from seed during the winter months, so the plants are ready for the garden come spring. Start the seeds eight weeks before the last expected spring frost, as the plants can take up to four weeks to germinate.
Fill 3-inch-diameter seedling pots with a moistened soilless potting mixture. Leave a 1/2-inch space between the top of the mix and the rim of the pot.
Sow two hollyhock seeds per pot, planting them 1/4 inch deep in the soil mix. Mist the soil surface with water to moisten.
Cover the pots with a plastic bag to help retain moisture during germination. Place the pots in a 60 to 65 F location to germinate.
Remove the plastic once sprouts appear. Move the pots to a warm, sunny windowsill and water when the soil surface begins to feel dry.
Thin each pot to one plant once the hollyhocks produce their second set of leaves. Pluck the weaker of the two seedlings from the pot, leaving the strongest seedling to continue growing.
Transplant the hollyhocks to a full sun, well-drained garden bed once all frost danger is past in spring. Plant the flowers at the same depth in the bed as they were in the pot, spacing them approximately 12 inches apart in all directions.
Hollyhock varieties range in size. Refer to the seed packet for the exact spacing needs for your variety.
Hollyhocks may not bloom well or at all the first year, but will reach their full bloom by the second year.