“When Do Hollyhocks Bloom?”

Every day I come home from work and I go out to inspect my garden and see what is happening where to whom. I have eternal patience and curiosity about when the magnolia will bloom. I know, if it does, it will be any time now, because I see the buds and I see other magnolias in the neighborhood with their big white flowers like grandmas with arms full of handkerchiefs bidding you adieu.  So, either Henry will bloom this year or he won’t. I don’t know.

But with the hollyhocks, this is the year! Last year, I planted them, watched them come up and then nothing. Now, this is to  be expected. Hollyhocks don’t bloom in the first year (though some will, just to fuck with you, or so I hear). But they also don’t do much above the surface. All the action is down below, where they’re making vast webs of roots (one reason my hollyhocks survived the flood just fine; they were well-anchored). This is the year all that root building leads to something above ground and I’m just waiting for it to start. I have two or three hollyhocks that look like they might have the starts of buds and every day I go out to see how they’re doing.

The Professor has some awesome hollyhocks in the yard next to hers and I vaguely remember having them when we were little. But I’m still kind of mystified and curious as to how this huge tower of flowers is going to happen. And I can’t wait!

So, this morning, I went to type “When do hollyhocks bloom?” into Google, when, of course, it came right up in the autocomplete. Apparently, I have asked this question before. I think the thing is that I don’t like the answer. I don’t want to wait until mid-summer!

I’m still confused about whether hollyhocks are actual true biennials or just short-lived perennials. I mean, it seems like, if they were honest to god true biennials, I’m going to be sorry I didn’t plant more seeds along the back of the bed this year, because I am dooming myself to hollyhocks only in alternating years. Bloom this year. Die off. Seeds grow next year. Bloom the year after. etc.

Unless… and this is something I’ve been wondering with a lot of perennials (and biennials)… if they go to seed this year, do the seeds germinate this year, and get enough growth that they bloom next year?

I don’t know.

Also, weirdly enough, I hurt both my knees. The one was just a little sore yesterday, but the left one is staging some kind of full on revolt. It doesn’t hurt to walk on it. But it hurts to bend it too much and it hurts like hell to move it, like, if you’re rolling over in bed. Holy shit. Oh, and it hurts when you poke at it.  It’s weird.

Ha, I blog like this to practice for when I’m an old lady. Just be thankful I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m repeating stories about my hollyhocks every time I see you.

18 thoughts on ““When Do Hollyhocks Bloom?”

  1. We had hollyhocks that we started from seeds at the old house and it took them a while to bloom – I remember July or possibly even August but once they did they went beserk and it was awesome. I hope the people that bought the house from us are taking care of them.

  2. I was at my best friend’s house on Sunday. She had two hollyhocks that were in full bloom. Of course, this is the 3rd or 4th year of them being there.

    I gave up on mine, The japanese beetles won.

  3. Hollyhocks reseed themselves like mad. We had them at my old roommate’s house, and weeding where they had gone to seed was a HUGE chore. The pea gravel driveway turned into one big hollyhock bed.

  4. Beth, you’ll have to come visit mine, since the ones I have coming up now are from the seeds you gave me.

    Kristen, I’m kind of thinking, if I can’t ever get anyone to come out and fix my driveway, that an attractive river of hollyhocks that prevents people from driving into the giant gaping maw might be just the thing my driveway needs.

  5. Entering or exiting my driveway lately I always think of you, because I see those glorious hollyhocks. I swear if I sat near them long enough, I would be able to see them grow; they are that fast. They are covered in blooms right now with the promise of many, many more. There were 3 flowers when I left town on Thursday. Fast. And each fall the neighbors cut them back to nothing at all. In May, they return.

  6. You already have hollyhocks at your neighbor’s?! So maybe it won’t be that long for me! I was thinking I might have to wait until July, but I’m only two weeks behind in-town folks, usually.

  7. oooh, so my seeds live on? Will you save me some for next year? I figure if we just keep passing the seeds back and forth, we’ll have them forever!
    I”ll gladly trade you for a heaping helping of parsley ;-)

    Regarding what Kristen said about them growing in pea gravel, tis true. I’ve seen them grow in that grey rock gravel – “slag” as my granny calls it.

    And the hollyhocks that i gave you, those came from Taos, New Mexico, where my best friend’s mom lives. According to her, they grow in between rocks out there.

  8. Beth, I think so. I mixed them with the hollyhock seeds I had and planted them all and a bunch came up. I’ll gladly give you some seeds.

    I’m also contemplating some kind of huge plant give away. I need to rearrange my irises and that will mean getting rid of some. And I’ll have these ox-eye daisies to get rid of and some daffodils that need to be split. I’m about wondering if it would be tacky to have a “you dig it, you can have it” day out at casa de Phillips. I don’t want to get rid of everything, but I need to make some room.

  9. I’ve been pondering a similar thing here, but on a smaller scale. I have got to get rid of some of these mexican hydrangeas. They’re sprouting up all around. Too many for me. Didn’t you say you wanted some? If so, I’ll bring some to you tonight.

  10. Sounds like it is time for a good ol’ plant swap. We just had one here in Memphis. Good times!

  11. I am sooo glad I read this before I tore my hollyhocks out by the roots and threw them on the burn pile! I planted 6 beautiful plants. They had beautiful healthy leaves that grew about 3 feet tall. Every day I would go out to tend to my other flowers and kept looking for buds. Nothing. I was really anticipating the double red flowers growing up as a back drop to my other plants. Nothing happened. No beautiful flowers and after a few days of cool rainy weather (I live in the Pacific Northwest) Even the leaves were dieing in great numbers. Many brown mildewed leaves lay in complete nasty, gooey masses. I tore out all of the messy leaves and tossed them on a pile of 25 year old wisteria branches we are trying hard to get rid of. But that’s a whole other story.
    I have only tried Hollyhocks one time a few years ago. I got beautiful tall spires with white double flowers. But I don’t recall when I planted them so it could have been a 2 or 3 year old plant. I plant things in odd places anyway.
    This last Spring I planted California poppy seeds. A few weeks later I tore out a bunch of weed’s from the flower bed. Luckily I left one. I wanted to see what kind of weed it was that had grown so profusely in my garden. When it grew larger I realized I had torn out all of the poppies! There is something to be said about making a drawing on what was planted where. I planted some Calla lily bulbs too, later I put in some sun loving flowers, right on top of the Calla Lily’s. Apparently I dug up the little bulb’s as well. No Calla Lily’s came up. I need a keeper.

  12. i don’t suppose anyone would tell me what a hollyhock rosette is. i have these huge “rosette” looking things on the leaf stalks and i am thinking they must be blooms getting ready to burst but all i see are new leaves coming from them. under the leaves, right against the stalk i see bigger versions of the rosettes only there is only one not many in the bunch. are those the actual flowers? this is the second year for them. they didn’t bloom last year so i am not quite sure what to expect this year. thanks for any help!

  13. Hi, Robyne. Yep, they look weird at first. But look at the top of these stalks


    If that’s what you’re talking about, yes, those are buds. You should get some blooms this year, if you have them in a good sunny spot, but they like to be good and hot before they bloom, so depending on what part of the country you’re in, you may have a couple more weeks to wait.

    I had some hollyhocks in my garden bloom for the first time this year, on their third year, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get blooms this year (though, if you have buds, I’ll be surprised if you don’t).

  14. The world is getting smaaaaallllleeeer!

    I just typed, “when do hollyhocks bloom?” into The Google, and your post was the first one. Only it seems that you have no idea either… Or at least you didn’t back in 2010.

    Any new info you can share?



  15. Ha ha ha. Yes. Hollyhocks do not usually bloom the first year (though I have found that pink ones sometimes do) at all. Don’t fret, just let them get established. And then, when it starts to get hot in June, they will bloom and they’ll continue to do so all summer.

    And then your neighbors’ dachshunds will dig them up and you will want to cry and be angry, but it will be impossible, because the dogs are so cute.

    Or, at least, that’s why I’m replanting hollyhocks this year.

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