Friday, June 18, 2010
My neighbor's hollyhocks are blooming again. They tower over her garden with huge flowers and I admit to being a wee bit jealous. The old-fashioned garden hollyhock of my childhood storybooks is also called Althaea rosea. They are native to the Mediteranian region which means they make perfect flowers for a low water yard. See? You can have a drought tolerant garden without cactus and succulent plants (not that there's anything wrong with that).
Hollyhocks do well in alkaline soil, like the heavy clay dirt common in my area. Colors range from white, pinks and the deep red spectrum. The non-hybrid varieties will overseed and come back next year. Try them in the back of the border; they can grow up to 9 feet tall!
I have found several US native hollyhock at the USDA.
Some are endangered; Peter's Mountain Mallow (Iliamna corei) native in general to the US and Iliamna remota from Virginia and Indiana. These hollyhocks have glowing white flowers that must look stunning in moonlight. They can grow from 4 to 6 feet in height.
I found a few seed suppliers using Google Shopping, but perhaps some of my seed saver friends will consider saving seed and offering it to other home gardeners; not only for it's ethereal beauty but to help save a species!
I always recommend you try to plant a few native plants in your garden, they are the easiest to take care of because they don't really need you; they're already adapted to your climate.
My favorite public seedbank, J.L. Hudsn, Seedsman has a pink Mountain Hollyhock Iliamna rivularis on their seedlist here…