Growing the Desert Garden

Welcome to the Desert Garden, with garden coach Tyler Storey, where we talk about everything having to do with gardening and landscaping in the Desert Southwest. From composting to Cercidium and agaves to arugula — we'll cover everything you want to know to grow your own beautiful Desert Garden.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Back at the Ranch: Hollyhock

volunteer hollyhock © Tyler StoreyThe first hollyhock blossom of the season. I planted hollyhocks in this yard only once, eight or nine years ago, and they have ever since been happily re-seeding themselves wherever they find a comfortable place to grow.

Allow at least a few of the blossoms to set and mature seed, then toss the seed randomly about your yard, or leave the plant to manage on its own. Pull out those plants that come up in inconvenient places, and let the rest grow as they will.

While some modern hollyhock hybrids will grow and flower in a single year, as they re-seed over several generations, they tend to revert to their natural biennial cycle, sprouting and growing one year, then blooming the following year. They also tend to revert to a purple-rose color, as in the picture. It's a lovely color, but if you want to keep other colors coming up, simply cut off the flower stalks of your least-preferred colors before they set seed. Each Spring will surprise you with a new batch of unexpected petal shapes and colors.


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