With its two to three meters high, the hollyhock (Alcea rosea) or Althaea works wonders in all gardens, large and small. It evokes the coast and particularly the islands of Aix and Ré where it is omnipresent and sometimes exceeds the lowest houses. Fortunately, lovers of this type of plant can rest assured: no need to live on the Atlantic Ocean to cultivate hollyhocks and enjoy its abundant flowers all summer long, which come in many pastel colors or more. shimmering. Here is everything you need to know to sow, plant and maintain Hollyhocks, a beautiful hardy perennial that is suitable for the novice gardener as it is easy to grow.
Sow the hollyhock or Althaea
Is the spring, in March or April, that we can start sowing hollyhock in place as soon as we want to cultivate it as an annual. It is necessary that the outside temperature reaches at least 13 ° C. In the harshest climates, it is better to wait a little longer if the spring frosts are likely to be severe. On the other hand, seedlings must wait until July if one wishes to cultivate the hollyhock as a perennial plant (or at least as a biennial plant). It is also noted that autumn sowing is possible in the southernmost regions.
It is strongly recommended to favor seedlings directly in place to take advantage of hollyhocks that are larger and more vigorous than those sown under cover and then transplanted afterwards.
The sowing procedure is the following :
- Dig the soil deeply and take the opportunity to remove pebbles and weed roots.
- Enrich the soil with ripe compost, for example.
- Sow on the fly or in pockets of 3 seeds directly in place, spaced 25 to 30 cm apart from each other. If you want to form a group of Hollyhocks (massive), there is an average of 5 feet per square meter.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of loose, well humus-bearing soil or sowing compost,
- Pack the soil,
- Water in rain.
Keep the soil moist with regular but moderate watering to allow germination, which can take up to three weeks. When the seedlings reach a height of 8 cm, it is necessary to proceed to thethinning which allows you to keep only the most vigorous, making sure to keep an interval of about thirty centimeters between each plant.
It can be noted that to be exempt from seedlings, the gardener has the possibility ofbuy your Hollyhock plants in a bucket in a garden center. Before replanting them, the clods must be rehydrated. All you have to do is leave the cups to soak in a basin of water just before installation. The roots can then be carefully untangled.
This bucolic plant loves rich, draining and deep soils. She likes it sunny and sheltered location. We do not recommend planting it in a container because it has long roots that are not very suitable for this type of crop since it needs sufficient space in depth. It is therefore not really the plant to afford to vegetate a terrace or a balcony.
The hollyhock is a perennial which belongs to the family of Malvaceae. It has several advantages: its resistance to spray, its speed of development, its profuse flowering which lasts quite a long time as well as a great ease of cultivation. We just avoid installing it in clay soil.
Caring for the Hollyhock
This beautiful plant is so easy that it can reseed yourself and push into the slightest crack in a wall or asphalt driveway. This spontaneous renewal thus allows to regenerate its culture ofAlthaea over time, and this is a good thing because generally the lifespan of this large flowering plant does not exceed 4 years. Be careful, however, the beautiful does not appreciate being moved once it is well rooted … Anyway, if it is necessary to transplant young shoots, it is necessary to wait until they have formed 4 true leaves .
The hollyhock is satisfied with a dry soil. Apart from the rooting period which therefore follows sowing or planting the plants in pots, watering must be moderate.
In windy regions, it is essential to put a tutor to which the flower stems are attached without tightening the ties too much.
In autumn, all the aerial parts die. It is therefore necessary cut low to the ground then mulch the feet. The following spring, the plants will grow again.
Amending the soil before planting is sufficient, as this plant is content with ordinary garden soil.
Parasites and diseases
Those are the excess watering which favor the occurrence of fungal diseases, as well as the fact of wetting the foliage. We note that the hollyhock is especially sensitive to rust which weakens the plant and creates aesthetic damage (spots, pustules, etc.), without however leading to its death. The affected parts must be removed without delay and then burned. Horsetail manure, nettle manure, sulfur solution, are all recommended treatments in case of rust attack. But the disease can disappear spontaneously if the plants are well ventilated and the waterings are space.
Finally, it is necessary to cut the wilted flowers gradually to take advantage of abundant flowering from June until the end of September. And to sow other Hollyhocks without breaking the bank, we wait until after flowering the small cuts were formed. They are the ones that contain the seeds. All you have to do is harvest them when the weather is dry and store them under cover until spring.