Growing Hollyhocks – A Traditional Cottage Garden Favorite-

If you love perennial plants with a long blooming season, you will likely have a fondness for growing hollyhocks. This lovely perennial is a popular garden favorite that flowers throughout most of the summer months.If you love cottage garden flowers, try growing hollyhocks. They add height to a garden border and bloom all summer long.

Hollyhocks (Puccinia malvacearum) are often found in cottage gardens.  They make a great background plant for shorter perennials and come in a wide variety of colors.

Tips for Growing Hollyhocks

If you love adding plants for your cottage garden, try your hand at growing hollyhocks, these tips will help you to grow and care for them in your yard.Hollyhocks and other flowering plants


Be sure to plant hollyhocks in sunny locations.  Since they have very tall flower stalks, protect them from the wind to avoid breakage. A good spot is in front of fence with slat openings to give the plant air circulation or at the back of a garden bed in a full sun location.Hollyhocks can grow to 9 feet tall


Hollyhocks like moist, well draining soil. Adding organic matter such as compost in the spring will help, too. If you plant them in too dry a location, they will languish during the heat of the summer and won’t produce flowers well.


The flowers are produced on very long stalks that tower over the garden.  They may need staking. They range in color from white to deep burgundy and all shades in between.Hollyhocks come in many colors

Many hollyhocks have pink flowers but this is not the only shade for them.

The flowers have a slightly scalloped edge with a pretty throat and are profuse on each stem.  Some varieties, like this purple variegated hollyhock comes in more than one shade.Purple variegated hollyhock


Hollyhocks grow easily from seed. Plant them just below the surface and space them about two feet apart to give them room to grow. I chose hollyhock seeds in my project for starting seeds in peat pellets. Check out the tutorial here.

PropagationHollyhock seedlings

Hollyhocks are rampant seeders.   If you dig them up and plant them in small pots, they will grow and give you additional plants for other areas of your garden. Seedlings are not normally quite as strong or as vigorous growing as the original parent plant.

You can also collect seeds from existing plants to save for future plants.  Root cuttings will also produce new plants.

Bloom time

Hollyhocks have a long blooming season and will flower from mid summer until early fall. Blooms start near the base of the stem and open upward so that eventually 1 1/2 to 2 feet of the stalk is covered in petals.Hollyhock flowers open from the bottom to the top of the stalk


The leaves of the hollyhock plant are large and dark green with a rounded shape. They are prone to a rust fungus called puccinia so care should be taken when watering.
Hollyhock leaves

Cold Hardiness

Hollyhocks are considered as perennials in zones 3-8.  Typically they are a short lived perennial of about 2-3 years.  In colder zones, treat the plant as a perennial, or take cuttings or plant seedlings and bring them in during the winter months to replant again in the spring.


This pretty perennial makes a great screening plant to hide more unsightly areas of your yard, since it grows to quite a tall height. Use it at the back of the garden bed with shorter plants in front of it for best effect.

Holly hocks in front of a house

Photo credit Angela Marinaro, Fan of the Gardening Cook on Facebook

The make a great border plant near the side of your house to add curb appeal and height to hide the foundation. (note that this limits the air circulation so it’s not a good choice if your garden is prone to rust on hollyhocks.

Hollyhocks add a lovely vertical element to your garden because of their long flower stalks.  Some can grow to 9 feet tall!

Problems Growing Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks have a tendency to develop rust, so take care to water from below to keep moisture off the leaves. Giving the plant good air circulation also helps. Mulching under the plant will keep the spores from last years plants from developing.

You can treat with an all purpose fungicide such as Chlorothalonil or sulphur.(affiliate links)Rust on hollyhock leaves

This pretty plant can be a short lived perennial, lasting only 2-3 years. You can prolong this to several more years if you remember to cut off the flower stalks close to the ground after they have finished blooming.

Hollyhocks by the bucket load from a reader!

Angela Marinaro, a fan of The Gardening Cook on Facebook had a large bed of hollyhocks in her garden which contained four hollyhock plants that she put in a few years ago. Last summer she transplanted just four of them into this spot in her front yard .

She says that her hollyhocks got enormous, bloomed almost all summer died off, and then bloomed again late fall.

Holly hocks 2 seasons ago

Photo credit Angela Marinaro, Fan of the Gardening Cook on Facebook

Angela had numerous seedlings that she potted up with great success the following year after this photo was taken. It shows the immense height of hollyhocks!

I hope that these tips will be useful to you to help with growing hollyhocks.  Growing this lovely flower will add color and dramatic height to your garden.

You can pin the following image to Pinterest so that my tips are handy for you.

Hollyhocks are a flower that is often grown in cottage gardens. See my tips for growing these pretty plants.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  17 comments for “Growing Hollyhocks – A Traditional Cottage Garden Favorite-

  1. Larry Mayer
    06/01/2018 at 4:36 pm

    Puccinia is the name of the ‘rust’ fungus, which commonly grows on Hollyhock plants (Alcea rosea).

    • Carol
      06/02/2018 at 10:14 am

      Thanks for the info Larry! Carol

      • Linda
        06/11/2019 at 10:02 am

        Can you plant hollyhocks seeds in late june,or should you wait until next spring.

        • Carol
          06/11/2019 at 12:39 pm

          Hi Linda. Hollyhocks take 10-14 days to germinate from seed and then take another 3-4 weeks before they’re ready for transplanting. Most hollyhocks won’t flower well until the second year. I think I would wait and start seeds indoors in the winter to plant early next spring.

        • Linda
          06/11/2019 at 2:11 pm

          Thank you for the advice, now i know the best time to start planting the seeds. I appreciate the information.
          Again thank you very much.

          • Carol
            06/11/2019 at 6:39 pm

            my pleasure Linda

          • Arlene
            08/24/2019 at 10:49 pm

            Hi I planted these for the first time and not only did they get a powdery mold even tho I had them in a sunny location with air circulation they also were attacked by Japanese beetles!!! So disappointing and they never bloomed 😕

    • Paulette
      08/04/2019 at 2:09 pm

      So I can dig up smaller plants and pot them, and plant them next year. And start new plants from leaves? Thank you please reply.

      • Carol
        08/04/2019 at 2:46 pm

        The seedlings that grow around the base will make the clump of existing plants larger. You can also dig them up and plant them elsewhere, or grow them in pots. I have never tried to grow hollyhocks from leaves, just small seedlings.

  2. 07/11/2018 at 2:16 am

    I have a smooth soil here, whether Hollyhocks will be able to survive well, or use sand in this soil. The way to grow Hollyhocks from the seeds was good. Can this plant be grown at this time? There is no organic remedy to avoid rust fungus.

    • Carol
      07/11/2018 at 1:09 pm

      I am not sure what you mean by smooth soil. Hollyhock plants like a soil pH between 6.0 and 8.0. Perform a soil test to determine the pH of your soil and then amend it if needed. Carol

  3. 06/07/2020 at 4:34 pm

    Thanks for your information about hollyhocks. My husband and I grew them in Washington state more than 50 years ago and planted some just this year (2020) in Colorado. They have been blooming already and are gorgeous! I appreciate your photos of your verbal descriptions about propagation and the rust that affects them. Thanks again for you info! Jude Hibler

    • Carol Speake
      06/07/2020 at 9:31 pm

      I am glad you enjoyed the article Jude.

  4. Bessie Gray
    06/25/2020 at 11:07 pm

    What can I do to keep rabbits from biting the leaves off my hollyhocks

    • Carol Speake
      06/26/2020 at 12:28 pm

      Rabbits are notorious for eating garden plants. The only way to keep them out is to fence the garden, or use barriers of some sort around the individual plant.

  5. Wendy
    07/23/2020 at 6:53 pm

    Can you take seeds from plants in your garden? How and when? And when should you start them inside to have them ready for spring planting outdoors?

    • Carol Speake
      07/24/2020 at 1:06 pm

      To save hollyhock seeds, cut the hollyhock seed pods from the stalks, and place them in a brown paper bag. If you want to sow them instead of saving them, autumn is also the ideal time for that.

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