Q: I recently received hollyhock seeds and was wondering when I needed
to plant them so they will come out next year?
Fall or spring are both good times to plant hollyhock seeds. If you plant your seeds in the fall you can expect to see them pop up next spring, although the summer blooms may or may not be as vigorous as they could be. Hollyhocks are biennials and they do best when they are allowed a first season to establish good roots. Because of this, many people also plant them in the spring (some varieties may still bloom this first year, although again, not as vigorously). Spring sowing allows them to "dig in" the first season so they can really produce a show during the second season. I live in a cooler climate and sow a new batch of seeds each spring to ensure continuous blooms each season.
If in doubt, plant some of your seeds in the fall, and save others to plant in the spring to find out what works best for your growing area. If Mother Nature plants her hollyhock seeds in August or September in your area that is probably your best bet, too.
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You can plant them now, they won't come up til next spring. Be careful where you plant them, they spread like crazy. Each plant puts out hundreds of seeds. Also, the color you get next year may not be the same color the following year. I love them! Make sure they are in sun and have air movement around them, and enjoy. (08/15/2005)
Hollyhocks must establish a root system first, and then they can produce the stalk(s) of flowers you love so much. Often they are planted in the fall to give them a chance to establish a system during the winter months. While other plants are loafing and going into dormancy, the hollyhock foliage is still green. When spring arrives, your fall planted babies will burst into growing and produce blooms that summer. This is why most people plant them in the fall, but it is not a must. It is vital that you keep your baby hocks watered regularly to ensure a strong and healthy root system to carry it through the winter cold.
In fact, I almost prefer to begin mine in the spring because then you see them growing, you know they are growing, and if you need to, you can move them into their permanent positions before they get too comfortable. Though the spring planted may not bloom that year (some varieties do, but not much of a show), they have the entire season to grow root systems and foliage. The next spring, look out. Your plants will be HUGE and the number of flower stalks increased.
Fall planting is nice, too, but if you are looking for impact, spring planting one year before is (my opinion) the best way to go. Spring planted the previous season will increase the bloomage.
Trying to start Hollyhocks on a heated germination mat is not advised. Don't try to rush your hollyhocks, they will come up when they get ready to. Don't assume that since package 'A' popped up in three days that all of your seeds should. The best way I have found to grow hocks is to lay the seed on the surface of well-tilled soil, then using a screen mesh colander, shake soil on top of the seed, a little less than 1/4" layer of sifted soil. Keep moist and do not let your seeds dry out once planted. Be patient and don't give up!
Backtracking on the fall planting, freshly harvested summer seeds sprout quickly, while seeds which have been collected for spring planting are a bit slower to sprout. (08/15/2005)
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