The Q&A Archives: Hollyhock Biennial or Perennial Confusion

Question: I grew Country Romance Hollyhocks last year with beautiful blooms this year. The seed packet says the hollyhocks are perenniels but everything else I've read says hollyhocks are bienniels. I would be pleased if they bloomed again next year, but if they're a bienniel, I would like to transplant my hardy hibiscus in the space this fall. I read the Burpee library of questions and read some that said they're biennel and some who have had theirs bloom for 4+ years. Could you help me in my confusion. Also, if they're perenniel, should I cut them down to the ground after the first frost or leave them bushy?


The answer to your question is "it depends".  Some strains of hollyhocks exhibit more pronounced perennial tendencies while others are predominently biennial. Individual plants will also vary in performance according to their individual characteristics due to seed variation as well as their growing conditions. In some cases there are so many seedlings every year that the hollyhocks seem to be perennial when in fact it is a number of successive plants in a patch together. Mature hollyhocks are nearly impossible to transplant, but seedlings can be moved if it is done with care. This might be your best route if you are unwilling to take a "wait and see" approach. The tall hollyhock stems should be removed by citting at the base when the blooms have faded (unless you are saving seed which will need to mature before you cut them off), or at the latest when frost cuts them down. This helps avoid disease problems and keeps the garden tidy. The plant will form a rosette of nearly evergreen leaves, this should be left alone until late spring when any winter damaged leaves can be tidied away.

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