Scientific: Alcea rosea
Common: hollyhock
Family: Malvaceae
Origin: Asia Minor, Turkey

Pronounciation: AL-see-a RO-see-a

Hardiness zones

Landscape Use: Bold accent plant for winter and spring flower gardens in the Phoenix area, nostalgia gardens, background placement within flower borders.

Form & Character: Strongly upright when bolting, stately, but vulnerable, dominant, and festive.

Growth Habit: Evergreen, herbaceous, bolting erect biennial to 9 feet, often shorter, rarely branched.

Foliage/Texture: Large, tomentose apical, scabrous leaves entire, suborbicular to scalloped or shallowly lobed, rugose and palmately parted; medium coarse texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Axillary flowers, racemose, involucral bracts generally united basally often enclosing the bud, petal 5, usually 1 inch long, whole flower is 2 to 4 inches in diameter, multiple colors ranging from white, off white to pink, rose, yellow, apricot, cream to purple, single or double; fruit a schizocarp.

Seasonal Color: Mid to late spring flowers in Phoenix, summer elsewhere in more 'sane' climates.

Temperature: No freezing temperatures

Light: No western sun, partial shade best

Soil: Tolerant, might need supplemental fertilizer during active growth.

Watering: Regular

Pruning: None

Propagation: Sow seeds in early fall for following spring bloom. If one allows the bolting flowers stalks to remain and set fruit, then hollyhock will naturalize (reseed itself) especially in more mesic landscape settings.

Disease and pests: None, though foliar fungal rust in zones with high relative humidity is possible.

Additional comments: Hollyhock is a wonderful, old-fashioned biennial for nostalgic flower gardens. It grows especially well in Flagstaff and Prescott gardens during summer and at all other times of the year in Phoenix.  Alcea contains about 60 species all from the Mediterranean to central Asia.