Hollyhocks Add Cottage Charm

deep pink hollyhock bloom
Hollyhocks are tall and old-fashioned, perfect to add cottage charm.

You would hardly call our lovable snout house a cottage, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy cottage plants. Right now, I am lovin’ this hollyhock. Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) are biennials, which means it takes two years for the plant to complete its lifecycle. I bought this plant in spring 2008 at the Dakota County Master Gardener plant sale. Last year, it was a clump of greenery all summer long. This year, it shot up the way teenage boys do between 9th and 10th grade — so I went from having a stout little plant to big a 6 or maybe even 7 footer.

Last week, it started to put out these lovely deep pink and yellow blossoms, which will go all the way up to the top of the plant and bloom for several weeks. Hollyhocks are easy to grow and they make a dramatic vertical accent in the garden. They are said to self-seed freely, so I will let some of the flowers go to seed this year. One bit of history on hollyhocks: Back in the days before indoor plumbing, homeowners often planted hollyhocks near the outhouse. That way, any genteel visitors would not have to ask where the necessary was — they simply looked for the hollyhocks.

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