Alcea rugosa
Russian hollyhock, Yellow fig-leaved hollyhock
Very unusual hollyhock!
Type/Hardiness Herbaceous, Biennial, Perennial, Hardy
Flowering period Summer
Height 5-8ft/1.5-2.5m
Light preference Full sun
Soil preference Any reasonable, well-drained soil
Sowing time/depth Late summer/Spring/Mid-winter, Barely cover
Hollyhocks, although strictly speaking perennials, are usually grown as biennials, chiefly because they are susceptible to rust. However, this pale-yellow-flowered variety, with fig-leaf shaped foliage, is said to be a true perennial, being less prone to rust. The flowers are distinctive in that, unlike other hollyhocks, they have a lobed appearance. These are very tall plants and some support is recommended. Cut back after first flowers are almost spent to encourage new, albeit shorter, flower spikes.
Sowing and/or growing instructions
Can be direct sown in late summer or spring. Alternatively, sow on the surface of peaty compost, barely covering with a very fine sprinkling of vermiculite or sieved compost (light is required for germination), under glass in mid-winter, either singly in modules or small pots, or in seed trays for transplanting when the first true leaves have developed. (NOTE: My experience has been that, whether sowing my own or externally sourced seeds, the germination has been slow, erratic and much lower than that of the common hollyhock, A. rosea, so I suggest sowing all seeds from the pack, or perhaps sow in two batches at different times of year.)
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