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Common Hollyhock

Alcea rosea

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Malvaceae (Mallow)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
180 centimetres tall
Gardens, grassland, hedgerows, meadows, roadsides, towns, walls, wasteland.

Variable in colour, 5 petals
Dark red funnel-shaped flowers, up to 4 inches (10cm) in size. Flowers may be pink, purple, red, white, orange or yellow.
The fruit is a schizocarp. The seeds ripen from August to October.
A short-lived perennial with 3 to 9-lobed leaves as large as 1 foot (30cm / 12 inches) in size. Garden escape species.
Other Names:
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Alcea rosea, commonly known as the hollyhock, is a species of flowering plant in the mallow family Malvaceae. It is native to Asia, but is widely cultivated and naturalized in many parts of the world. The plant can grow up to 6 feet tall and produces large, showy flowers that come in a variety of colors, including pink, white, red, and purple. The flowers appear in spikes on tall, sturdy stalks from late spring to early fall. The leaves are large and lobed, and are a deep green color. Hollyhocks are often grown in cottage gardens, along fences and walls, or as background plants in borders. They are easy to grow and are tolerant of most soil types.


The Common Hollyhock, scientifically known as Alcea rosea, is a popular garden plant that belongs to the Malvaceae family. This tall and beautiful plant is native to Asia and Europe, and it is grown in gardens all around the world for its stunning beauty and variety of colors. In this blog, we will discuss the characteristics and growing conditions of the Common Hollyhock.


The Common Hollyhock is a biennial or perennial plant that can grow up to 6 feet tall. It has a single stem with a cluster of large, showy flowers at the top. The flowers are usually 3-5 inches wide and come in a wide variety of colors, including white, pink, red, yellow, and purple. The petals are arranged in a bowl shape around a central stamen, which is usually a darker color than the petals.

The leaves of the Common Hollyhock are large and lobed, with a rough, hairy texture. They are arranged in an alternating pattern along the stem. The plant also produces seed pods that are round and flat, with a rough texture.

Growing Conditions

The Common Hollyhock is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. The plant also prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

Common Hollyhocks can be grown from seeds, which should be planted in the fall or early spring. The seeds should be sown directly into the garden bed, as the plant does not transplant well. The seedlings will germinate in about 2-3 weeks and will begin to grow rapidly once the weather warms up.


Common Hollyhocks require minimal maintenance once established. They should be watered regularly, especially during periods of drought. Deadheading the flowers can encourage the plant to produce more blooms throughout the growing season. The plant should also be staked to prevent it from falling over in strong winds.

Pests and Diseases

Common Hollyhocks can be susceptible to rust, a fungal disease that causes orange or brown spots on the leaves. Rust can be treated with fungicides or by removing infected leaves. The plant may also attract aphids, which can be controlled with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Cultural Significance

The Common Hollyhock has been cultivated for its ornamental value for centuries. It was a popular garden plant in medieval Europe and was often grown in monastery gardens for its medicinal properties. The plant was also used by Native American tribes for medicinal purposes, including treating respiratory ailments and skin conditions.


In the language of flowers, the Common Hollyhock symbolizes fertility, ambition, and fruitfulness. It is also associated with the Greek goddess Flora, who was the goddess of flowers and spring.


There are many different varieties of Common Hollyhock, including single and double-flowered varieties, as well as bi-colored and multi-colored varieties. Some popular cultivars include 'Chater's Double', which has large, double flowers in a range of colors, and 'Nigra', which has deep purple, almost black flowers.


In addition to its ornamental value, the Common Hollyhock has a number of practical uses. The young leaves can be used in salads or cooked as a vegetable, and the dried roots have been used as a substitute for marshmallow root in herbal remedies. The plant has also been used as a natural dye, producing shades of yellow and green.

Attracts Pollinators

The Common Hollyhock is a great plant for attracting pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to your garden. The large flowers provide a good source of nectar, and the plant's height makes it easy for pollinators to spot.

Companion Plants

Common Hollyhocks can be paired with a variety of other plants in the garden. Some good companion plants include echinacea, coneflower, yarrow, and black-eyed susan. These plants share similar growing conditions and can create a beautiful and diverse garden display.


Common Hollyhocks can be propagated through division, which involves dividing the plant's root system and replanting in a new location. This is best done in the fall or early spring. The plant can also self-seed, with new plants appearing in the garden each year.

Medicinal Properties

The Common Hollyhock has a long history of medicinal use. The dried roots have been used to treat a variety of ailments, including coughs, sore throats, and digestive issues. The plant also contains mucilage, a substance that can soothe and moisturize the skin. In addition, the plant has been used as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.

In conclusion, the Common Hollyhock is a versatile and fascinating plant with a rich history and many uses. From its ornamental value to its medicinal properties and ability to attract pollinators, it is a plant that offers something for everyone. Whether grown in a formal garden or in a more informal setting, the Common Hollyhock is sure to bring beauty, interest, and intrigue to any space.


Common Hollyhock filmed in Orford, Suffolk on the 29th June 2022.


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