Days to Germination:10-14 days
Alcea rosea. Sow these tall, stately flowers outdoors after the last frost. Sow in a nice spot with full sun and protection from the wind in fertile, well-draining, loamy soil just 1⁄4" deep (they need some light for optimal germination). Keep well-watered until the seedlings emerge, about 10 days after sowing. Or, start indoors 8 to 12 weeks prior to transplanting out after the last frost. Provide even moisture, strong light and good ventilation until the seedlings are ready to transplant out. Acclimate the plants by gradually exposing them to outside conditions for 1 to 2 weeks. Thin or transplant the seedlings 18" to 24" apart when they are about 4" tall. Plants may need to be staked, as the flower spikes are quite tall. A biennial, Hollyhocks may not bloom the first year. Summer flowering. Height: 6' to 8'.
Our Pollinators are in Peril
Deciding how to treat annuals and perennials is simple. Annuals dazzle you in summer, then take their leave. Perennials persist as long as they are welcome. But biennials are a two year proposition in which they are sown one year and bloom the next. If you have never tried biennials you might ask, “Are they worth it? I wait a year for this thing to flower, then it’s gone.” Well, not exactly. Biennials tend to be self-sowers which, once established, create their own little program. You have to get with their rhythm and learn to like their individualistic ways. One way is to give them a designated spot. Plant hollyhocks in the rear of a bed, since they’re tall, and next year they’ll make colorful, towering spires, dropping their seeds and creating a hollyhock neighborhood back there. A foxglove neighborhood might be a spot with dappled shade, in and around a shrub border. Forget-me-nots will congregate in a damp spot. Lupines, once introduced, might reappear anywhere; if it’s the wrong place just yank the ones that don’t fit and enjoy the rest.