Time to get sowing

hollyhock nene

Midsummer (yes despite the coolness now compared to last week it is summer) is not usually considered the best time to sow seeds but it is perfect for many perennials. Aquilegias, lupins, foxgloves and many more can all be sown now, including hollyhocks (Alcea rosea). Hollyhocks are a bit out of fashion but they are generally easy to grow in a sunny spot and there are lots of varieties including dwarfs, doubles and bright and pastel colours. The one problem is hollyhock rust which is a native disease that is found on wild mallows but spreads onto cultivated hollyhocks. The first stages are rusty spots but eventually it can get so bad that holes appear in the leaves and only veins remain. It can affect the stems too and the calyces.

Young plants are usually more resistant, though if you live in a rural area I think you are unlikely to have rust-free plants. Even so it is probably best to treat them as biennials and ditch the old plants. Sow them in summer, plant out in autumn and let them bloom and then dispose of the plants in late summer once they have flowered and set seed if you wish to keep some. Of course that is the theory – but these photos are of some growing by the side of the road in a garden where they obviously self seed and look after themselves and although there was some rust they were looking great.

hollyhock nene2



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6 Comments on “Time to get sowing”

  1. derrickjknight
    July 28, 2016 at 7:49 am #

    Jackie is cutting them down at the moment and scattering seed

  2. joy
    July 28, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

    think I will do the same to mine at the weekend … i love the old fashioned flowers and so do the bees . i bought garden news last week it had apricot foxglove seeds free will get those seeds sown .

    • thebikinggardener
      July 28, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

      I have some copies for you! Dont forget not to cover the seeds with compost – they need light

  3. joy
    July 28, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

    thank you I will remember that .

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