have always been one of my favorite flowers, but I've never had very good luck in growing them. The seeds usually germinate quickly, then the weather turns dry and the seedlings perish. And if they do live, whenever their long stems are heavy with blooms, and a strong wind and rain comes, they fall over and are ruined. It seems they do best growing up next to something, like an old shed or fence, anything to give them a little protection. This year I had a clump growing in a corner between a chimney and a wall. As you can see they grew really tall and we tied a cord to support them.
These were a beautiful, dark red; definitely going to save seeds from them. I just knew from the shapes of the flowers and leaves that they were a kinfolk of the okra plant, and after a search on Wikipedia, found I was right; they are both members of the Mallow family, as is the hibiscus.
Perhaps the most common pest to a hollyhock is the leaf miner, which is the larva of an insect, such as a moth. The larva lives in and eats the tissue of the plant. They're protected from predators since they feed inside the leaves. I had a choice between dusting the leaves, making them white and possibly killing bees, or leaving them as is; I chose the second.
Speaking of bees, hollyhocks are known for attracting bumble bees. The farmer has told me this quick story many times: He had a city cousin who knew how to fold the petals of a bloom around a visiting bumble bee, catching it inside. The country cousin wasn't so lucky; the bee put out a powerful sting, right through the petals!
Have you had luck growing hollyhocks? Have you ever tried to catch a bumble bee inside a bloom?
A little note added this Monday morning: Judy left a comment referring us to "hollyhock dolls" on Google. What a cute thing to do with a child! So easy, and a lot of memories to be made. BUT watch out for the bumblies!