This group consists of about sixty, tall, herbaceous plants commonly known as Hollyhock. These beautiful plants range in height from 6 to 10 feet. Their large, rough leaves have five to seven lobes. In the summer and early fall, long, upright spikes of large, single or double flowers that may be white, pink, rose, red, crimson, purple, yellow, or peach are produced. The flowers open individually from the bottom up. Hollyhocks are biennial, but they self-seed readily making them seem like perennials.
Hollyhocks should be grown in average soil in full sun. Space them 3 feet apart and pinch them back once or twice early in the growing season to form a bushier plant. Hollyhocks are susceptible to a fungal disease commonly known as Rust. This disease attacks the stems and leaves of the plants initially starting at the lower leaves. The first symptoms are yellow spots on the surface of the leaves with blisters appearing within these spots on the undersides of the leaves. After a few days, these spots grow and release tons of reddish-brown spores, which cover the entire undersurface of the leaf. The leaves eventually die. To prevent this disease, plant your Hollyhocks in a sunny, dry location with good air circulation. Keep the plants healthy by watering and fertilizing correctly and destroying any weeds, which may host this fungus. Remove and burn any infected leaves. Finally, use a fungicide at the first sign of disease development.
Seeds may be sown outside in the spring once the soil is workable or in flats filled with sifted, sandy soil; they should be transplanted when they are large enough to be handled.