Although hollyhocks are decorative and colorful, they may end up taller than the rest of the plants in your garden, making them look odd and out of place. So, you’re likely wondering how to stop hollyhocks from growing too tall.
To stop hollyhocks from growing too tall, you must first understand that they are naturally tall plants, so their height is something you must deal with. You can cut your hollyhock back to reduce its size using the right tools, but there’s no way to prevent growth.
Are you still wondering how to stop hollyhocks from growing too tall? Keep reading this article to learn some helpful tips!
1. Understand That Hollyhocks Are Naturally Tall Plants
Unfortunately, there’s no way to stop hollyhocks from growing too tall because that’s how they grow. For example, you can’t do something to them before the growing season to make them only grow to a certain height later on. However, you can make them shorter once they become too tall.
Hollyhocks can grow up to 8 feet (2.4 m) tall, so you may decide to cut them back before or after yours reaches this height. Although most average hollyhocks grow to approximately 8 feet tall, some can be taller than this.
So, understand that you must allow the plant to grow tall before you can cut it back to a smaller size. As of now, there are no preventative measures.
2. Prune at the Right Time of the Year
Pruning at different times of year may give different results. For example, pruning during dormancy (winter) is more likely to promote vigorous plant growth, which you want to avoid if you want the hollyhock to be a manageable height.
On the other hand, pruning in spring or summer will promote growth, but not as much. So in your case, it’s best to avoid winter pruning altogether. Plus, your hollyhock likely won’t be too tall during winter because growth is minimal at this time, so there’s generally no need to cut it back yet.
In this case, the best time to cut the hollyhock back is near the growing season. Consider cutting it back before it starts taking off (late winter or early spring) and again once it stops flowering. It’s also a good idea to cut the plant back in the middle of the growing season if it’s become too tall.
If it’s the middle of the growing season and the plant has become too tall to manage, cut the stalks back to the desired height.
Once you understand which time of year is best to cut back your hollyhock, you’ll know exactly when to do it for the best results.
3. Use Sharp Shears
You only need a few tools to cut back a hollyhock if it’s too tall. The most essential tool is something sharp that can cut through the stalks, like a pair of sharp shears. Avoid breaking the stalks with your hands, as you may cause damage and won’t get a clean cut.
Anything with a sharp blade should be good enough to get the job done. For the best results, cut each stock individually rather than trying to cut all stalks simultaneously.
4. Cut the Stalks to Where You Want Them to Be
When the plant has already grown too tall (and if it’s the middle of the growing season), cut the stalks to where you want them to be. For example, if they’re currently 9 feet (274 cm) tall, you should cut them down to 4 feet (122 cm).
Here is a brief guide on how to effectively reduce the size of your hollyhock by cutting it back during the growing season:
Examine the Plant
Before going in with your pruning shears, examine the plant to see exactly where you want to cut them. If you want them to be a specific height, use a measuring tape to help you.
Cut Each Stalk Carefully
While cutting each stalk, ensure you don’t damage the growth below. You’ll want the shears to grip each stem and cut evenly, leaving you with a clean cut. Try not to touch any of the flowers or foliage below, as it can cause damage to the healthy plant.
Make Sure the Stalks Are Similar Heights
To ensure the plant looks as tidy as possible, make sure each branch is evenly cut. Go back in with shears to fine-tune if needed.
Measure up Afterward if Needed
If you want to be specific about the height, you can use a measuring tape once you’ve finished cutting the hollyhock back to ensure it’s the way you want it to be.
If cutting after the growing season, cut the stalks to a few inches above the ground to prepare them for the winter and following growing season. Again, make sure to get a clean cut across the stalks. It’s good to leave some growth above the ground because it will protect the development underneath during the cold months.
5. Repeat the Process Each Year With New Hollyhocks
Hollyhocks generally only live 2-4 years, so repeat the process for as long as possible. If you plant new hollyhocks (or if you allow them to self-seed and grow themselves), treat those plants in the same way.
Repeating the process each year ensures the height of your plants remains controlled. As I mentioned earlier, there’s no way to prevent growth, so repeating the cutting process is the only way to reduce the height of your hollyhock.
Why Do Hollyhocks Sometimes Lean?
Hollyhocks sometimes lean if they’re too tall and don’t have enough strength to hold themselves upright. It’s a standard issue in hollyhocks, but you can use stakes to keep them standing straight.
You may also want to plant hollyhocks by a wall so they have something secure to lean against.
How to Stop Hollyhocks From Leaning Over
It’s best to start supporting your hollyhocks early so they don’t have a chance to lean over as they grow. For example, consider using plant stakes or a trellis early in the growing process to encourage robust and upright growth.
Below are some ways to stop hollyhocks from leaning over when they’re too tall.
Cut Them Back
As already mentioned, cutting hollyhocks back is an excellent way to decrease their overall height. And once you’ve cut back its height, it won’t be as likely to lean or fall over, especially in windy conditions!
But if the only reason you want your hollyhock to be shorter is that you don’t want it to lean over, consider other options that I’ll discuss below.
Use Plant Stakes
Stakes are excellent at keeping hollyhocks upright when they’ve grown too tall, so you should consider this method to keep yours in place.
To stake hollyhocks, here’s what you’ll need:
- Wooden stake
- Scissors or shears to cut the twine
- Gloves (optional)
It’s best to wear gardening gloves if the stake is rough and can cut your hands. Otherwise, there’s no need.
Here is a guide on how to stake tall hollyhocks to ensure they don’t lean over:
- Grab a stake and position it near one side of the plant.
- Hammer it deep enough into the soil so that it can’t move (even in windy conditions).
- Cut your desired amount of twine.
- Wrap some of the hollyhock stalks securely around the twine and stake.
- Repeat this process on the other side of the plant and as much as needed.
The more support you want, the more stakes you’ll need. If your tall hollyhock only needs a little support, one stake and one piece of twine might be enough for the entire plant. But in many cases, more is required.
Once you’ve staked it properly, it should be able to stand tall without slumping or falling in the wind.
Use a Trellis
There are many different ways to use a trellis with hollyhocks. For example, you can simply place your trellis behind the plant against a wall and tie the trellis and plant together using twine or another material.
A trellis will give your hollyhock something to lean on and attach to so it doesn’t lack support and fall over. Trellises can be made of different things, like wood, bamboo, or metal. Be sure to choose a trellis material that will only deteriorate slowly. Otherwise, you’ll need to replace it in a few seasons.
You can also build trellises around the plant so that it can grow through them, giving them lots of extra support.
Use Wall Support
If you don’t want to use trellises or spikes, consider placing the hollyhocks by a wall so they have extra support with minimal effort. The wall can also protect the tall plants from blowing around in the wind, which can cause damage or even spread disease more easily.
Any type of wall (wood, brick, and metal, for example) will do the trick. So, you can simply work with whatever you already have!
How to Make a Tall Hollyhock Blend In
If most of your plants are small and the hollyhocks are 8 feet (244 cm) tall, they likely look out of place!
Rather than simply stopping them from being tall (by cutting them back), consider other options. Of course, cutting them back is effective, but you must allow the plants to grow tall before you can do it.
Below are some ways to make a tall hollyhock blend in without having to cut it back.
Add a Variety of Plants to the Area
If the area consists of primarily small plants and one or two tall hollyhocks, consider adding other, taller ones. This will mean the hollyhocks won’t stand out as much, making them blend in more easily. Plenty of tall plants available will look beautiful with hollyhocks, including hibiscus plants.
Hibiscuses can grow up to 7 feet (2.13 meters) tall if grown in the right conditions, but some varieties may grow even more elevated than this! Plus, the vibrant colors of the hibiscus plant will blend seamlessly with the bold colors of the hollyhock.
As well as incorporating more tall plants into your garden, consider planting a tree or multiple trees. Doing this will help make your hollyhocks appear smaller, especially if the trees are nearby. But remember that many tree species can take years to become tall, requiring a lot of patience.
If you’re not interested in planting more tall plants and trees in the area, follow some of the other tips I’ll mention below.
Disperse the Hollyhocks Around the Garden
Rather than bunching them up in one area, spread the hollyhocks, so their height blends in more. If all your hollyhocks are in one area of the garden and every other part has much smaller plants, they’re certainly going to look out of place!
Of course, you could cut them back if you want, but dispersing them around the garden is an excellent way to salvage the plants without compromising on style and aesthetics. You can also distribute other tall and short plants around the garden to further blend the hollyhocks in.
You can do this by collecting seeds from hollyhocks and planting them around the garden rather than letting the flowers self-seed and grow in the same spot each year.
Consider Replacing Hollyhocks With Smaller Plants
At the end of the day, hollyhock plants are tall, so if that’s different from what you’re looking for, consider other options. Otherwise, you’ll need to continue to cut them back, use supports, or blend them in with other plants and disperse them around the garden.
To make your life a little easier, consider planting some of the following flowering plants:
Purple coneflowers are much shorter than hollyhocks when fully grown, with an average height of 3-4 feet (0.9-1.2 m). As you can imagine from the name, these plants tend to be purple when fully bloomed and are sure to brighten up your garden.
Purple coneflowers are similar to hollyhocks in that they can grow in many types of soil as long as it’s well-draining. But unlike hollyhocks, purple coneflowers are long-living–most plants have a lifespan of up to 40 years, but you may need to divide them every so often. This lifespan is a big contrast to a hollyhock’s 2-4 year lifespan!
Another short plant to consider instead of tall hollyhocks is the daylily. These vibrant flowering plants only grow between 1-4 feet (30-120 cm) tall in most cases, so you’ll never have to worry about them growing too big. Additionally, you can choose from various colors, ensuring they blend in with the rest of your plants.
Unlike hollyhocks, there’s no need to cut back daylilies because they’re low-maintenance. Simply remove any dead or old leaves and leave it at that. These plants are highly adaptable to different soil conditions but grow best in well-drained soil.
Marigolds are bright yellow and orange flowering plants; the tallest they get is 3 feet (0.9 m) tall. So, they’re another excellent plant in your garden instead of tall hollyhocks (if height is an issue).
Like the other plants mentioned in this article, marigolds are also bright and vibrant, perfect for giving life to your garden during the growing season. They grow in similar conditions to hollyhocks, so you should be able to grow them in your garden easily. For example, they like full sun and well-draining soil.
They don’t need much cutting, so they’re relatively low maintenance.
Petunias are beautiful annuals that grow up to 18 inches (45 cm), making them much smaller than the average hollyhock. Due to their annual nature, they don’t live long (similar to hollyhocks), but they can bloom for many months.
To maintain these plants, all you must do is cut back old, dying growth when you see it. There’s no need to cut the plant because it doesn’t grow tall enough to require pruning in the first place. It’s a low-maintenance plant that can grow in many conditions, similar to hollyhocks!
Herbaceous peonies can reach approximately 3 feet (0.9 m) tall, making them yet another excellent shorter replacement for hollyhocks. They’re hardy and can grow year after year, so you don’t have to worry about replanting them each year.
Giving these plants full sun and access to rich, well-drained soil will ensure they bloom for as long as possible during spring and summer.
It’s no secret that hollyhocks are tall plants, and after reading this article, you should have a better idea of how to deal with their towering heights.
Unfortunately, you can’t prevent hollyhocks from becoming tall, as it’s impossible. However, you can cut them back once they grow too tall to control their height. Other things you can do include blending them in with other tall plants around the garden and dispersing them around so they don’t look so out of place.
Consider smaller plants (like coneflowers) if height is a significant concern.