Hollyhocks in border

Best hollyhocks to grow

Elegant yet informal, we pick some of the best hollyhocks to grow.

Hollyhocks are cottage garden stalwarts, with tall spires bearing distinctive, slightly cupped flowers that open in sequence up the stem.

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Although hollyhocks (botanical name Alcea) are short-lived perennials, they’re more often grown as biennials to avoid the worst of the fungal disease hollyhock rust, which appears as brown-orange spots covering the stems and leaf undersides. To reduce the incidence of the disease, ensure the plants have plenty of water and are grown in a rich, moisture-retentive soil. Or, choose rust-resistant varieties like those in the ‘Halo’ series.

As well as cottage gardens, hollyhocks also suit wildflower and wildlife gardens – those with single blooms are attractive to bees and other pollinators.

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Discover a beautiful selection of hollyhock varieties, below.


‘Sunshine’

Hollyhock (Alcea) 'Sunshine'

This single-flowered cultivar has fresh, pale-yellow flowers. ‘Sunshine’ is part of the ‘Spotlight’ series, which are characterised by their single flowers held on tall, sturdy stems. It’s a good choice for growing as a perennial, as it will reliably regrow each year.

Height x spread: 1.8m x 50cm.


‘Peaches ‘n’ Dreams’

Hollyhock (Alcea rosea 'Peaches 'n' Dreams')

‘Peaches ‘n’ Dreams’ is a double-flowered variety with balled blooms largely made up of ruffled, peach-pink petals. Grow it alongside plants with accessible pollen and nectar, so pollinators aren’t left out.

H x S: 1.8m x 60cm.


‘Creme de Cassis’

Hollyhock (Alcea rosea 'Creme de Cassis')

With bi-coloured mauve and cardinal purple, ‘Creme de Cassis’ makes a spectacular addition to summer beds and borders. Interestingly, each plant will bear a mix of single, double and semi-double flowers.

H x S: 1.8m x 60cm.


‘Blacknight’

Hollyhock (Alcea rosea 'Blacknight')

Like ‘Sunshine’, ‘Blacknight’ is part of the ‘Spotlight’ series. It has sumptuous, very dark purple flowers that have a lovely, silky appearance. Great as a focal point in borders, or planted with contrasting plants.

H x S: 2m x 50cm.


‘Halo Red’

Hollyhock (Alcea rosea 'Halo Red')

‘Halo Red’ is part of the ‘Halo’ series of hollyhocks, known for their beautiful, bi-coloured flowers and rust-resistance. It has single, raspberry-coloured flowers with warm yellow centres.

H x S: 1.8m x 50cm.


‘Halo Apricot’

Hollyhock (Alcea rosea 'Halo Apricot')

Another member of the ‘Halo’ series, ‘Halo Apricot’ has dusky pink blooms with dark purple centres that are punctuated by a creamy central column of fused stamens that surround a central pistil.

H x S: 1.8m x 50cm.


‘Halo Lavender’

Hollyhock (Alcea 'Halo Lavender')

Despite the name, the flowers of ‘Halo Lavender’ are a richer, deeper purple than lavender flowers, though no less beautiful. Warm pink centres provide subtle contrast.

H x S: 1.8m x 50cm.


‘The Bride’

Hollyhock (Alcea 'The Bride')

With pure white, double flowers, this variety is fittingly named ‘The Bride’. The petals have an attractive, crinkled appearance like crepe paper.

H x S: 2m x 60cm.


‘O Hara’

Hollyhock (Alcea 'O Hara')

This double variety of hollyhock has rich crimson flowers with a broad saucer of outer petals, studded in the centre with a pompon-shaped arrangement of petals. It gets its name from Gone with the Wind‘s Scarlett O’Hara.

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H x S: 180cm x 60cm.


Spotted hollyhock rust?

If you’ve spotted the telltale spotty pustules of hollyhock rust on your plants, remove the infected leaves and burn immediately to destroy the spores. Clear away and burn old foliage in autumn to reduce the amount of spores overwintering. If the stems are bare or unsightly, disguise them in the border by planting around them.

Watering can