Hollyhocks are almost as easy to grow as sunflowers and would probably be grown as often if more gardeners were aware of their good nature.
This gorgeous award winning Hollyhock has the distinction of being the shortest in the Alcea rosea family. “Queeny” is a dwarf Hollyhock that reaches only 60cm (24in) in height and unlike the tall varieties, is a perennial that blooms the first year from seed.
“Queeny Mix” produces a profusion of large, fully double blooms. Carmine-Rose, Lemon, Lilac (new), Pink (new), Purple, White and Crimson (new). A compact variety, the plants are base branching.
Blooming from May to October, they have a long blooming season which starts well ahead of the regular tall Hollyhocks,
With normal size leaves and flowers, but on shorter, strong stems, they require no staking. “Queeny” is an ideal candidate for containers as well as the border.
It can be planted early and used as an annual, or planted later for blooms the following summer.
Sowing:Early spring to early autumn
Like all Hollyhocks, Queeny is easy to grow from seed, but unlike the tall varieties, which are biennials, Queeny is a perennial that will flower in its first year if sown early in the year.
Sow February to March for blooms the same year, or sow midyear for blooms the following summer. The plant quickly forms a dense, well-branched plant.
Seeds can be sown directly into a prepared bed or can be started in pots in a cold frame or indoors. Queeny is also perfect for growing in containers, as long as the containers are deep enough.
Sow seeds on the surface of the soil, cover with about 2mm (¼in) layer of soil. Keep moist and do not let the seeds dry out once planted. They will usually germinate in 2 to 3 weeks at 20°C (68°F). If planted indoors, prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost.
Plant in moist but well drained soil. The plants need plenty of room, space them 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) apart. Hollyhocks love rich soil, dress the soil around them with compost, rotted or mushroom manure or seaweed.
Deadhead to prolong the flowering season through to August. To encourage self-sown seedlings for the subsequent season, allow some blossoms on the stalks to form seed pods. Others can be pulled up and composted.
Once the leaves have died back for winter, give your plants bonemeal for the roots of the plants. In cold area the plants will benefit from a mulch to protect from winter frosts.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Containers, Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds, WildflowerGardens or WildlifeGardens
Nomenclature: Swedish Botanist Carl Linnaeus whose arrangement for classifying, naming, and ranking, living things during the mid to late 1700s is still in wide use today, albeit with a good many changes; identified this plant, and suggested both the Latin Alcea and Greek Althea to designate these pretty cultivars. “Althea” is the Greek word for “healing”. Hollyhock have long been used medicinally. Rosea means red, more accurately a deep red-purple (the colour of ancient roses).
Holly is said to be an altered form of the word holy. The plant is said to have been brought back with the Crusades having been transplanted in many parts of the world during the Middle Ages. In Medieval times the hollyhock was known as "St. Joseph's Staff.' It is referred to in a British horticultural treatise of 1548 as holy-hoke, an adaptation of the Welsh name. It may also have been called Hock Leaf because it was used to reduce the swelling in horses' hocks. The Anglo-Saxon word for Mallow was "hoc”. “bocc” is from an Old English word that means mallow. The seeds have been called "cheeses" because the pod is shaped like a wheel of cheese.
Origin; Hollyhocks recognised today are believed to be of Asian origin, they are depicted in Chinese art as early as the 9th century, symbolizing passing time. Their route to the the rest of the world seems to have followed the Silk Road. Hollyhocks may have started out as plants for the wealthy, shown in Chinese art and (much later) in the walled gardens of the rich. But it wasn’t long before the innate hardiness of hollyhocks, and the large supplies of seed they provide, brought them into the working classes and into cottage gardens.
Historical Uses: The Hollyhock is a very old plant. The grave of a 50,000 year old Neanderthal man was found to contain the remains of Hollyhocks.
Although Hollyhocks may have no medicinal uses in modern times, the plants were used in antiquity to solve a myriad of health issues.
Medicinally, the plant was used primarily as an emollient (something that softens, something used to make a salve), as a minor pain reliever, and as a diuretic. If you have a sheep with sore feet, follow the instruction of Gervase Markham (1614) and "annoint her feet with the juyce of the Hearb Holyhocke."
The flowers are edible. Hollyhock buds were used in a recipe of 1660, with Marigolds, Wild Thyme and young Hazel buds to enable one to see fairies.
They have been pressed into service for making and dyeing cloth and children used to make Hollyhock dolls from the flowers. And before we leave the subject, one more lovely bit, from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses:
All the names I know from nurse: Gardener's garters, shpher'd purse; Bachelor's buttons, lady's smock, And the lady hollyhock
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