The Q&A Archives: Caring For Hollyhock Seedlings

Question: I have hollyhock seedlings started in January. They are Chater's Doubles. The ones I had started in fall to plant out flopped over and died.(I believe from fungus) How do I treat the ones I have now to keep them from keeling over?
Any care,fertilization,light,temperature tips?

Thank you.

Answer: Hollyhock (and all seedlings) need to be kept growing vigorously to do well. This can be difficult to do if you start them too early or your growing conditions are poor, but with any luck you'll have some nice plants this summer.

It sounds like your last batch dies due to damping off -- this can happen if they are too crowded, air circulation is poor, light is inadequate and/or they are kept too wet.

Place them into individual cell packs just as soon as they are large enough to handle. Move them up to larger packs and then three inch pots and so on as needed so they never become cramped for root space or air circulation or light. Ordinary soilless mix should be fine. Keep it damp but not sopping wet. After several weeks begin fertilizing with a diluted water soluble fertilizer at about a quarter strength or according to label instructions. Do not overfertilize because this can result in overly lush growth which is susceptible to disease.

These are sun loving plants, so they need very bright light. Keep them in a greenhouse or under lights. They will grow well at temperatures in the sixties, will slow down if kept cooler and grow faster if kept warmer. Nighttime temperatures can be cooler but should stay well above freezing to keep them in active growth. In spring set them in a cold frame (or progression of prtected and shaded spots) to gradually acclimate them to the wind and weather (and real sunshine if they have been under lights) before planting them in the garden.

Good luck with your hollyhocks!

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