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Hollyhocks are almost as easy to grow as sunflowers and would probably be grown as often if more gardeners were aware of their good nature. Unlike many other dramatic flowers that are simpler to admire than to actually grow, hollyhocks need no coddling. Their character is superior to their reputation and they are best praised by being grown.
Alcea ficifolia is a lesser known hollyhock species native to Siberia. It was introduced at the end of the 16th century and is commonly known as the 'Antwerp' or 'Fig-leaved Hollyhock' due to its attractive, unusual palmate foliage. It is a substantially more robust plant than the common hollyhock and unlike the biennial forms which produce a single spire, Alcea ficifolia produce many upright stems emerging from the base, resulting in a bushy form. It is considered a perennial and will act like one if cut back after blooming and is shown to have the best levels of resistance to rust.
This plant, which has deeply lobed fig-like leaves, produces more branching stems than the common hollyhock and is relatively rust resistant, so if you've failed with the normal one give this a try. They are most impressive in the garden as tall border plants or for background planting and the long stems make for excellent cut flowers. Very easy to grow from seed, this reliable perennial is extremely hardy and will flourish in full sun and rich soil.
Pretty Wild Seeds are registered with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) under number 7529, so you can have confidence in both our products and advice. Although our products are listed in weights and acres, we can supply in additional quantities upon enquiry so if you need a larger supply, please don't hesitate to give us a call.
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Sowing; Sow in late winter to spring or in autumn. If sown early, November to March the plants will bloom in their first year.
Like all Hollyhocks, the Fig-leaved Hollyhock is easy to grow from seed, but unlike the tall varieties which are biennials, it is a perennial that will flower in its first year if sown early in the year. The plant quickly forms a dense, well-branched plant.
The seeds can be sown directly into a prepared bed or can be started in pots in a cold frame or indoors.
Sow the seeds on the surface of the soil, cover with about 2mm (¼in) layer of soil. Keep moist and do not let the seeds dry out once planted. They will usually germinate in 2 to 3 weeks at 20°C (68°F). If planted indoors, prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost.
Cultivation; Plant out in rich, moist but well drained soil about two weeks before the last frosts. The flowers grow throughout June to July at an incredibly fast rate The plants need plenty of room, space them 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) apart. Hollyhocks love rich soil, dress the soil around them with compost, rotted or mushroom manure or seaweed.
Deadhead to prolong the flowering season through to August. Alcea ficifolia perennialise very well, especially if the flower stalk is cut off after the majority of the blossoms have gone to seed.
To encourage self-sown seedlings for the subsequent season, allow some blossoms on the stalks to form seed pods. Others can be pulled up and composted.
The foliage lasts well into autumn. Once the leaves have died back for winter, give your plants bonemeal for the roots of the plants. In cold area the plants will benefit from a mulch to protect from winter frosts.