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Hamptons Life

Feb 20, 2012 2:05 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Hollyhocks: Old Is New Again

Mar 29, 2012 12:01 PM

Alcea nigra is another variety that’s probably biennial. It’s one of the more striking hollyhocks. The flowers are about 6 inches across and are a very dark maroon, growing to about 8 feet tall.

Again, it’s sold as a perennial but is a biennial. It’s also sold under other names such as The Watchman, Black Beauty, After Midnight and Arabian Night but they’re all the same plant, though different strains will show some variation in color.

Alcea rugosa, or the Russian Hollyhock, is probably one of the few true perennial hollyhocks. Instead of growing in single spikes like the roseas, this one has a bushier habit with multiple stems and buttery yellow flowers on 6- to 7-foot spires.

Possibly related is the alcea ficifolia, which is known as the Antwerp or figleaf hollyhock. This one also has a single yellow flower but on single spires instead of a bushy habit. It’s also reputed to be a true perennial, and if the seed is sown indoors early, it will flower the first year from seed.

The hollyhocks are really great garden plants and fit well in the perennial border, cottage garden or even the cutting garden. But they are not without their problems and the problems usually show up in the second year. By no means though is this a reason not to grow them, so next week we’ll get into the little quirks of hollyhock culture.

In the meantime, buy some seeds, get a few plants going and next week we’ll explore further. Keep growing.

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The Halsey House Museum on South Main Street in Southampton used to be known as the Hollyhock House for the tall clumps of hollyhocks that used to grow up against it every year.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Feb 23, 12 11:41 AM
Another informative article Mr. Messinger. Bring on Spring!
By Wagoneer (28), Southampton on Feb 24, 12 4:18 PM
I visited Denmark last year and I have happy memories of all the Hollyhocks that grow in a natural and uncultivated surroundings,thy were beautiful I have planted them in my English garden here in Hampton Bays in the past but they did not survive the Winter,any suggestion where to buy them here in the Hamptons.I will try growing them once more and try mulching them through the Winter.
By Etians rd (543), Southampton on Feb 25, 12 8:16 AM