|ALCEA rosa (Althea rosea) - Hollyhock|
Malvaceae; native to China.
Germination: Sow perennial varieties outdoors anytime in spring or summer, up to 2 months before first fall frost. Or sow biennial varieties indoors in early spring, barely covering seed, Maintaining a temperature of 70° F. Germination takes 10-14 days.
Growth: Plant 18-36 inches apart in full sun in rich, well-drained soil. Water and feed heavily during the growing season and deadhead to encourage reblooming. Taller varieties may require staking. Older plants lose their vitality and, for this reason, Hollyhocks are better treated as biennials. They will self-sow, but may produce plants with different colored blooms. To prevent self-sowing, cut the flowers before they set seed.
Appearance and Use: These plants have colorful bloom spikes for the back of a border, in screens, against a fence or wall alongside gateposts, or framing an entryway. Hollyhocks may be tall (4-6 feet) or dwarf (about 2 feet). They have stiff stems, maple-like foliage and, in summer, spikes of single or double blooms, 3-6 inches wide, in all colors (except blue). Old-fashioned types display bell-shaped petals, while modern types are more often fringed, ruffled, or doubled.
NASA Seeds in Space
"What’s it to you whether or not we have an orderly, scientifically sound method for cataloguing plants and animals? Not much. But it comes in awfully handy for scientists who, up until the middle of the eighteenth century, had to say something like ‘that little yellow flower with the spots on its petals’ every time they wanted to compare notes," The Linnaean System of Taxonomic Classification, Judy Jones and William Wilson, An Incomplete Education