Hollyhocks create beautiful blooms throughout the summer and are perfect for brightening a garden. But as the summer ends, the flowers begin to fade and shrivel. So, what do you do with hollyhocks after they flower?
After flowering, continue to water a hollyhock as needed. Depending on what you want, you can also do different things with a hollyhock. If you want the plant to self-seed, leave it be and refrain from cutting it back right away. If you don’t want any more seeds, remove the flowers.
Knowing what to do with hollyhocks after flowering is essential, and this article will dive into the topic. So, keep reading to learn more about these beautiful plants.
Should You Cut Back Hollyhocks After They Bloom?
You should cut back hollyhocks after they bloom to ensure the plant doesn’t self-seed. However, you shouldn’t do it if you want the plant to self-seed or if you want to collect the seeds yourself once they’re ready.
That’s why you must know what you want before cutting anything away.
How To Maintain Hollyhocks After Flowering
Hollyhocks are low-maintenance and don’t require much care other than watering now and then and plenty of sunlight. But after flowering, there are different things to do, like cutting off flowers to allow new ones to come through.
Below I’ll discuss the various things you can do to maintain and care for hollyhocks.
Water the Plant As Needed
It’s vital to water hollyhocks after planting up until the end of the growing season. Although you may not have to water them as much near the end, it’s still important to do it now and then to ensure the plants can remain healthy.
After your hollyhock has begun flowering, water the surrounding soil frequently. MasterClass recommends watering hollyhocks 2-3 times per week. You can generally stop watering your hollyhocks once flowering has completely stopped, and this occurs typically during fall when the weather becomes colder.
Cut Back Flowers To Allow New Growth To Come Through
After hollyhocks begin flowering, you can remove older flowers, allowing newer, healthier ones to come through. Doing this throughout the summer ensures a constant bloom in the garden, so you should do this to ensure the colors of the plant remain vibrant for months.
When a hollyhock has older flowers on its stalks, it must put energy into maintaining them. So by removing older flowers, the hollyhock can put more energy into growing new ones, making the entire plant more vibrant and healthy.
There’s no point in the plant putting all its energy into preserving flowers already starting to shrivel and wilt, so you should cut these away as soon as you notice them. Once you see fresh new growth, you’ll realize why it was such a good idea!
Cut Back Flowers and Stalks To Prevent Seeds From Forming
Hollyhocks create their own seeds, and it’s up to you whether you want to take advantage of this. If you have no interest in keeping seeds for future plants (or you want to stop your hollyhocks from seeding themselves), the best thing to do is to cut back or remove the flowers once flowering is finished.
If you remove all the flowers early enough, the plant won’t have enough time to produce seeds. That’s because the individual flowers on the hollyhock plant turn into seeds (and seed pods) as they die, so removing them early is a way to stop new seeds from forming.
Cutting back the flowers in this way is a suitable control method, particularly if you don’t have a lot of space in your garden and want to avoid overcrowding once the hollyhocks start self-seeding.
You can also cut back the stalks to prevent seeds from forming. In this instance, cut the stalks to a few inches above the ground, allowing new blooms and stalks to grow the following growing season. If doing this, keep some of the lower foliage in place, as it will protect younger growth underneath from frost during winter.
Let the Flowers Turn Into Seeds and Remove Them
If you want to take advantage of the seeds in your hollyhock plants, don’t remove the flowers right away. Instead, give them time to transform into pods. Once the pods and seeds within them are dry enough, remove them from the plants with your hands.
Here is a brief guide on how to retrieve seeds from a hollyhock:
- Feel the pods to make sure they’re dry. If not, give them more time.
- Remove the pods from the stalks of the hollyhock.
- Place all the seeds on a flat surface and separate them.
- Store the seeds in a container (in a refrigerator or freezer) and plant them once ready.
- Repeat this process with each new hollyhock plant each year!
As you can see, it’s possible to have an endless supply of hollyhocks if you continue to collect the seeds each year from the plants. So if that sounds like something you’re interested in, follow this step rather than cutting back the flowers before they have a chance to turn into seeds.
When the seeds and pods are ready to be picked, they should look dark.
Remove Diseased Leaves
Unfortunately, hollyhocks are highly susceptible to certain diseases, especially rust. If you’re unaware, rust is a fungal disease that affects many plants. The main sign of rust is a plant with blotches on the leaves that look like rust.
As soon as you notice these brownish blotches, remove the affected leaves and dispose of them away from the garden. The last thing you want to do is place these infected leaves in a compost bin or anywhere else near your garden because the fungus may spread.
You can cut the leaves off using shears. Alternatively, use your hands to break them off. Be sure to wash your hands afterward, especially if you are not wearing gloves and are planning to touch other plants later.
Cut Hollyhock Stalks if They’re Too Tall
Hollyhocks can grow to be very tall, with some reaching 8 feet (2.4 m). While this may not be an issue in some cases, it can be bothersome in others. Thankfully, it’s easy to deal with this issue by simply cutting the tall stalks back.
You can do this whenever the plant reaches a height that’s too tall, and it won’t harm any other part of the plant.
So, if the plant has already flowered and grown too tall, cut the stalks back to your desired height. Be aware that if you cut away stalks before seeds have formed, you won’t be able to retrieve the seeds.
So if a hollyhock is too tall, but you also want to retrieve seeds and plant them in the future, you may need to wait.
Allow the Plants To Self-Seed
If you’re happy to let the hollyhocks self-seed, leave them be and let them do their thing. Once the seed pods dry up, they naturally fall off the plant stalks and get into the soil. From there, they’ll grow into seedlings and, eventually, fully-grown hollyhock plants!
This is the most low-effort way to maintain hollyhocks after flowering, ensuring you continue getting new plants without doing anything.
However, it’s not a good idea to use this method if you want to plant hollyhocks somewhere else in the garden. It’s also not a good idea if you don’t have enough space in the area.
If either of the above scenarios is the case, hand remove the seeds and pods from the plants yourself, and choose where you want to place them when the time is right.
Overcrowding is something you must consider before allowing your hollyhocks to self-seed. If plants don’t have enough space between each other, airflow gets restricted, meaning the environment is more likely to be moist. And if the environment is humid, fungi and other diseases can grow and spread quickly (like rust).
That’s why your hollyhocks must have plenty of space to grow if you let them self-seed. These plants are already highly susceptible to rust, so you don’t want to increase the chances of it by allowing them to grow too close together.
When Is the Best Time To Remove Seeds From Hollyhocks?
The best time to remove seeds from hollyhocks is when they turn dark (a brownish color) and dry up. It may occur near the end of the growing season when the flowers begin to fade and shrivel (after flowering).
You should only remove seeds from hollyhocks when they’re ready. Removing them too soon can lead to issues. Here are some tips regarding removing seeds from hollyhocks:
- Removing seeds that aren’t dry can lead to fungal issues. As I already mentioned, seeds must be dry when removed. If they’re not dry, they’re more likely to harbor fungus, which can be a problem when you decide to plant them in the soil. Feel around all the seeds to ensure they are not damp.
- The seeds should be dark. Once the seeds are a dark brown color, it’s a sign that they’re ready to be picked. So if they still look light in color, avoid removing them from the plant right away.
- The seeds should be hard. If the seeds and seed pods aren’t fully ready yet, they might appear softer (as well as lighter). Wait until they’re firm to remove them. Otherwise, it’s too soon, and you won’t be able to plant them.
Whenever you decide to plant the seeds, ensure each one has enough space. There should be around 2 feet (60 cm) between each planted seed. Plant approximately one or two weeks before the last frost for the best results.
Do Hollyhocks Need To Be Cut Back?
Hollyhocks don’t always need to be cut back. They should be cut back if they grow too tall, or you want to cut away dead flowers to allow new growth. If none of these things are issues for you, there’s generally no need to cut them back until fall.
In some cases, cutting them to half their size is a good idea when they’re too tall and becoming unsturdy.
Unfortunately, hollyhocks don’t last for many years, but they can often live for 3-4 with proper care. You can cut the stalks back to a few inches above the ground at the end of the growing season. That way, the plant has an excellent chance to grow the following growing season again. It won’t grow back if its life is over, however.
In that case, you’d need to plant a new hollyhock and start over.
You can cut a hollyhock back before or after collecting seeds; it’s entirely up to you! Cutting it back before collecting seeds means you won’t be able to plant additional plants for the next growing season. Cutting it back after collecting seeds means you can plant additional hollyhocks, so cut it back only when you’re ready.
Since fall is the best time to cut a hollyhock plant back in most cases, the seeds will have likely already formed (and possibly dispersed) at this point.
How To Keep Hollyhocks Flowering For as Long as Possible
Hollyhocks tend to bloom between spring and summer, but you might notice yours dying off sooner than expected. If that’s the case, you must consider the environment to ensure your hollyhocks are getting everything they need. For example, a hollyhock that isn’t getting enough water might stop flowering in mid-summer due to dehydration.
Below are the main ways you can keep hollyhocks flowering for as long as possible, so keep reading if you’re interested in learning more.
Keep the Plants Hydrated
Your hollyhock must be hydrated throughout the growing season. When you plant the seed, water the soil regularly to ensure it can grow into a strong, vigorous flowering plant the following year.
Failing to hydrate the plant early enough can cause issues down the line, so get into good watering habits right from the start.
If a plant receives enough hydration, it has more energy to thrive and flower. So, it’s more likely to flower for longer. You’re also more likely to get a more significant number of seeds if your hollyhock can flower for longer, so it’s a win-win.
Important watering tip: only apply water to the soil where the roots are. Avoid watering the plant directly (i.e., the foliage and flowers) because that will increase the chances of rust and other fungal diseases. Water the soil in the early morning so that the plant and earth have the entire day to dry.
Deadhead the Plants
After flowering begins, it’s good to keep an eye on the plant because some flowers and leaves might begin to die while others remain healthy. In this instance, you want to deadhead the plant, ensuring to remove any foliage that’s not in good condition anymore.
Although this means you won’t get seeds from these particular flowers, it does mean that new blooms and foliage can grow in, and you can get seeds from this new growth instead. Since deadheading makes way for newer, healthier growth, it’s an excellent way to ensure your hollyhocks bloom for as long as possible.
Give the Plants Plenty of Sunlight
Hollyhocks need sunlight from when the seeds are placed in the ground to when you cut them back at the end of the growing season. So to ensure it blooms for as long as possible, give it plenty of sunlight each day. The sunlight can help hollyhocks and other plants with photosynthesis, so yours must receive a few hours of sun each day.
Failure to receive enough sunlight means your hollyhocks won’t have enough energy, and they may begin to die sooner than you’d hoped.
Ensure the Soil Is Appropriate
Hollyhocks prefer moist but well-draining and rich soil, so if they don’t have that, they may not bloom for as long as you’d like. Check the earth regularly to make sure it’s in good condition. If you notice it feels too dry or wet, you may need to amend it using soil amendment.
Keep Pests Away After Flowering Begins
Unfortunately, hollyhocks are susceptible to certain pests, particularly Japanese beetles. If pests take hold of the plant, they can cause damage. As a result, flowering may not last as long, and the hollyhock will likely have holes in the foliage.
If there are no pest issues before flowering begins, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any issues after it starts. That’s why it’s essential to keep an eye on the plant, making sure pests stay away. If you notice pests on your hollyhock after it begins to flower, wipe them out immediately and consider using insecticidal products.
If you catch them early, they likely won’t have a chance to cause severe damage to the plant.
Hollyhocks are beautiful plants that can add life to any space. After flowering–when the flowers and leaves begin to shrivel and fall off–there are different things you can do with your hollyhock. Firstly, you should keep it hydrated if there are still healthy blooms.
Leave the flowers to shrivel and turn into seed pods if you want to allow the plant to self-seed or if you want to remove the pods and plant the seeds somewhere else.
If you don’t want more hollyhocks to grow, remove the dying flowers as soon as they show signs of deterioration.