By Becca Badgett
(Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden)
Growing hollyhocks in the sunny garden makes a statement. Beautiful blooms may tower up to 9 feet tall and can be used as an old-fashioned focal point in a garden bed. Large blooms are long-lasting when planted correctly. Planting hollyhock roots is the best way to start this large and attractive flower.
About Hollyhock Bare Root Plants
Healthy bare root plants don’t have the susceptibility to the dreaded rust disease as those started in other ways. Seed grown hollyhocks and those started from cuttings often start life in a weaker form and are more prone to develop rust disease, a disease that plaques long time hollyhock growers. Plants grown from seed may not be true to the parent plant either.
More than 60 species of bare root hollyhock plants are available. Hollyhock plants are biennials or short lived perennials. Some do not bloom until the second year after starting bare root plants, but you should see foliage growth the first year. Most hollyhock plants are of the Alcea species, of the family Malvaceae.
How to Grow Bare Root Hollyhocks
Learning how to grow bare root hollyhocks is a challenge for some. Follow a few simple steps, however, and you’ll have a wealth of the beautiful blooms from the hollyhocks as well as from other bare root plants.
When purchasing bare root plants, keep a few things in mind. Buy firm, healthy roots without blemishes. Soft spots or mildew can indicate a diseased specimen. Bare root plants should not be broken. If you’ve bought bare roots with any of these problems, follow the instructions below before planting.
Planting Hollyhock Roots
Bare root hollyhock plants usually come in plastic packaging protected by peat moss or sawdust in the bag with them. Remove the fleshy roots from the bag and lightly shake off the protective material. Trim any damage from the roots, such as mold or breakage.
Bare root hollyhock plants often appear to be dried out, so soak them in a tub of water for 10 minutes to rejuvenate them. They may also be soaked overnight, but don’t leave them in water long enough to get soft.
Plant hollyhock roots in a prepared hole in the right location. The hole should be wider than the roots and deep enough to encourage the long taproot of bare root hollyhock plants to easily grow downward. When planting, the taproot should point downward. Don’t plant too deeply, though, just a couple inches below the soil.
Bare root hollyhocks can be set on a mound of loose soil in the middle of the hole with another hole in the center for the taproot. The bud or crown of the bare root hollyhock should point upward and be level with the surrounding soil.
Gently press the roots into the soil for good contact and cover with soil. After covering the bare root plant with soil, water well and add a layer of mulch. Bare root hollyhock plants should not be allowed to dry out; neither should they sit in waterlogged soil. When planting hollyhock roots in spring, cover them with a box or newspaper if spring days get unseasonably warm.