The Q&A Archives: Annual Hollyhocks?

Question: I started some "Summer Carnival" hollyhocks indoors in June and planned to transfer them outside in August or early Sept for bloom next year. Now I find out that this is an annual variety that is supposed to bloom the first year. I doubt they will have time to do that, since they are at the 2-leaf stage now. If I plant them outdoors and they do not bloom before the first frost, will they come back and bloom next year?

Answer: The "Summer Carnival Mix" as all hollyhocks are considered perennials. In my experience, "perennial" in hollyhock terms often means biennial since many of the plants seem to grow on the first year, bloom the second year, and then perpetuate themselves by offshoots or seedlings.

It is true that some hollyhock varieties, including possibly this one, can be brought into bloom the first year if they are started early enough in the spring, meaning practically mid-winter. Since yours were started in June, it is highly unlikely they will bloom this year. They should, however, winter over and bloom at the normal time next year.

Do try to transplant them to the garden as quickly as possible so that they have enough time to establish themselves before winter sets in. Good luck with your hollyhocks!

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