Its been an interesting time for the hollyhocks. The rust hasn’t been half as bad as it could have been, but the weather is always challenging, The ones in pots need watering when dry, and the doubles become heady in some of the rather large downpours.
20mph winds are predicted over the next couple of days so a few stakes and string have been put in place to stop some of the more likely ones from crashing down.
Perhaps the question I get asked the most about hollyhocks is what do I do to get rid of rust.
For me that’s not the way to approach hollyhocks. Manage your expectations and expect to get rust, and just think how you will manage it when it comes.
Using an anti fungal spray is one method that can help keep in in check – but I always use that more as a last resort given it can have an impact on pollinators. For me its about removing any infected foliage once you see the signs – and dispose of them, as opposed to putting on your compost pile which could just aid the spread,
There are of course rust resistant hollyhocks, but even those can and do get rust. Having removed any infected foliage some people think the plants look a tad strange – so why not just treat hollyhocks as a back of border plant, and add some under planting.
This way you are learning to live with what is an incurable disease as opposed to trying to totally cure it, which may leave you disappointed.
Last year I finally finished this area of the garden, replacing old rotted out wooden raised beds, gravelling over what had become a rather unruly area and putting in these metal raised beds along with some galvanised planted.
This year its mainly hollyhocks and cosmos – with a few onions and garlic, just to stay true to the cottage garden style of growing your veg with your flowers.
Having travelled about 20 miles from the house in the last 16 or so months, we finally had a longer day out – and went to Hampton Court. Obviously when you get back you go and check your plants. The Cosmos continually need a dead heading – but on arrival at the hollyhock patch it was apparent some rather blustery rainy weather must have rolled in and blasted through.
So much so, that 3 of the weighty 90 litre “bins” had been blown over! Some of the larger hollyhocks also weren’t as upright as they had been – but this is all part of the joy of growing them. We aren’t a show garden and don’t try to be.
So this is what they are looking like at the moment. They need a decent weeding for the ones in the ground and a good watering today. But still coming along, with some varieties now in flower.
Today I’m taking a bit of time removing any leaves from the hollyhocks that look scraggy, ill, infected with rust etc. I always think the ideal weather for them is dry but still – so breezy and humid just doesn’t help in the sense I’m sure its the perfect conditions for rust to thrive and spread,
That being said, I also think rust is a price worth paying for the flowers you get. The first few ones are starting to emerge. Always amusing (albeit unhelpful) to see some emerge that are clearly not quite the variety that was listed on the seed packet.
Last week the letter arrived, and I learned that we now have the National Plant Collection of Cosmos Bipinnatus.
Certainly plenty of dead heading in my future, but all the work really was worthwhile. I’ve taken a few (lots) photos of the flowers over the last few days as they have been enjoying the sun. Now the welcome rain has finally arrived I have time to publish them.