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Starting Hollyhock Seeds

April 14th, 2010

Being a lover on cottage garden, I really like hollyhocks. I have double ones in the garden in pink and in yellow and I have some mini ones as well. When I saw seeds for ‘The Watchman’ I thought they would be lovely. Last year I tried to start the seeds without any luck, I seeded a whole flat and not a one germinated. Hollyhock seeds need light to germinate, which makes it tough sometimes because they can get blown or washed away if you have the flats outside (which is probably what happened to mine).

I thought that if I tried to start them like other flat seeds that need light, like amaryllis and tulips, I might have better luck. I floated them in warm water in a small ramekin in my kitchen window a few days ago. I noticed yesterday that a few of them were germinating already! When most of them germinate I’ll transfer them to flats with some soil. Looks like next year I’ll have some dark hollyhocks blooming in my cottage garden!

Do you have any interesting seed starting techniques you’ve had luck with?

25 Comments to “Starting Hollyhock Seeds”
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: Starting Hollyhock #Seeds #seedsowing #hollyhocks #seedstarting […]

    Reply to Tweets that mention Starting Hollyhock seeds | Chiot’s Run —'s comment

  2. Mangochild on April 14, 2010 at 5:50 am

    I generally have been starting my seeds with the soaking process you describe, and have had great results. Maybe along the same lines, that could be why the seeds that happen to be planted around a set of humid/warmer days sprout up from the soil faster than others.
    .-= Mangochild´s last blog ..It’s been a long time… and a question =-.

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  3. pam on April 14, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Hollyhocks are my favorite flowers! Mine pretty much reseed themselves, though last year, I did scatter some new seeds about.
    .-= pam´s last blog ..What Was it Wednesday? Plus boob update. =-.

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  4. Melissa on April 14, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Those will be gorgeous in your garden! I really love the deep color of them. It is beyond irritating when my seeds don’t germinate. Or worse, when they succomb to damping off. Makes me furious! Hope you have better luck with these. : ) Melissa
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Easy Blueberry Muffins =-.

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  5. denise on April 14, 2010 at 8:53 am

    i have a few seeds started here in my kitchen. my first time to do something like this. I did not soak the seeds prior to i have my fingers crossed that they will germinate.
    .-= denise´s last blog ..foody =-.

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  6. Tree on April 14, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Thanks for the tip! My youngest has been collecting every seed known to man and she really wants them to grow, I would have just sewn them in the side lawn and probably wouldn’t have gotten any to grow. I will try watering them first then sewing them.

    Again Thanks so much
    .-= Tree´s last blog ..Spring Has Finally Hit the Market =-.

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  7. marcyincny on April 14, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Gorgeous color. Botanical Interest seed? “towers of edible black satin” LOL. I can’t help but think there’s probably a little note on the inside of the envelop but I don’t like having to do something with the seeds once you unfold the envelop to read the info on the inside. I have in fact bought two packages in the past but I’m less inclined to do that now…
    .-= marcyincny´s last blog ..Sittin’ =-.

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    • Susy on April 14, 2010 at 9:22 am

      They are Botanical Interests. This is how they’re described:

      These towers of edible black satin blossom are a wicked addition to the back of the border, along a fence, or as an accent in a cottage garden.

      Now that the seed pack is empty maybe I’ll cut it open and read the inside, it is packed with info.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • nancy on May 23, 2014 at 10:07 am

        What??? You can EAT hollyhocks? What part? How?

        to nancy's comment

      • Susy on May 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm

        The entire plant is edible, it’s related to marshmallow. I bet it would make a great tea and the flower petals would be great in salad.

        to Susy's comment

  8. Kelly on April 14, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I’ve never grown Hollyhocks but bought seeds for them for this year. I’ll try your tip for floating them in water in a sunny window. If it’s warm enough, do you think they’d do well if I planted them out in their final location instead of seed trays?
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Weights and Measures =-.

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    • Susy on April 14, 2010 at 10:31 am

      Yes, they’ll probably do better if planted outside in their final location. Hollyhocks have a big taproot so planting them in their final location early is a great idea. I have so many chipmunks, rabbits and deer that eat hollyhocks (even though they’re supposed to be deer resistant) that I plant them in trays until they’re a decent size, then protect with some chicken wire until the leaves are big and tough. If you don’t have problems with rabbits/chipmunks/gophers/deer then yours will be fine planted outside.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. Justin on April 14, 2010 at 10:10 am

    I really enjoy these posts that teach about seed starting. I’d love it if you did more (maybe a mini-series?).

    I’ve had a container garden on my 3rd-story condo balcony for a few years and I have a really difficult time starting plants from seeds indoors. I try every year and usually, I’m lucky if I can get 1 or 2 pepper plants and one green bean plant going out of the entire lot. Everything else either doesn’t germinate or they germinate and then croak just before they hit the “real leaf” stage. I have the best luck with “peat pellets” and the worst luck with a plastic cell “greenhouse tray”. I’d rather use cell trays than peat pellets because they’re cheaper/reusable and because I’d prefer to start things organically and Lord only knows what’s in the peat pellets.

    I suspect part of my problem is the soil mix I’m using in the cell tray. I usually just try to reuse some potting soil and add some fertilizer or compost to it. It’s so heavy, it never drains/dries and I think it may just rot the seeds. One year, I did add some peat to it and that helped a little.

    I think temperature and light are another problem. I only have one window in the condo to put them in and the heater is close-by. The constant hot-cold, hot-cold probably does them no good–especially when my wife starts opening the window.

    I also suspect that I shouldn’t be trying to put more than one kind of seed per tray because they germinate at different rates and I’m forced to pull the covers off before all of the cells have germinated.

    Any posts on seed starting techniques and your magic soil mixture would be greatly appreciated. I really enjoy your blog!

    Reply to Justin's comment

    • Susy on April 14, 2010 at 10:34 am

      Seed starting can be frustrating. I’ll have to come up with some posts about seed starting, that’s a great idea! I’ve been wanting to show my seed starting command center (an area in the basement) and wherever else I can find space. I’ll have to sit down and come up with a variety of posts and maybe focus on it for a week. I’m sure a lot of my readers (being more seasoned gardeners than myself) will be a wealth of information in the comment sections).

      I mix up my own seed starting mix and have great luck with it compared to store-bought stuff. I use peat as I have not had luck with the coconut coir that everyone else raves about. I just took some photos of my seed starting mix making and I’ll be posting that soon.

      I do mix different kinds of seeds per flat and take the cover of when the first one germinates. I also have one heat mat that I rotate heat loving plant trays on (tomatoes, peppers).

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Morgan G on April 14, 2010 at 10:14 am

    What a great solution, Susy. I have a flat of peppers and tomatoes (the principe borghese, you recommended for sun-drying) where nothing has popped up. The water-soaking technique makes so much sense. Thanks for sharing!
    .-= Morgan G´s last blog ..Earth Day 2010 at The Ecology Center =-.

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  11. Renee on April 14, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I tried planting Hollyhock roots outside and none came up! Maybe they will this year…

    Reply to Renee's comment

  12. Rebecca @RootsAndWingsCo on April 14, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Ohhhh, Hollyhocks are sooo my favorite. I live in Phx and not a lot of flowers do very well. But I have seen some amazing Hollyhocks now and then, even here! I always vow that I’m going to grow some. You just inspired me to do it this year!!
    Rebecca of the R&W Gals
    .-= Rebecca @RootsAndWingsCo´s last blog ..Wednesday’s Creative Inspiration =-.

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  13. MAYBELLINE on April 14, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Does it help to rough up the seed before soaking? I always do that and wonder if that extra effort is even effective.
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..When the Wind Blows =-.

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    • Susy on April 14, 2010 at 6:47 pm

      I’m not sure if these techniques work or not. Perhaps I’ll experiment with my squash seeds, which this is recommended for. I did this with peas earlier this year and soaking them for a few hours or overnight didn’t make them germinate any faster.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Judy on April 14, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Oh, I have some of those this year as well! So far I only have one of twelve that has germinated- not great results. I’ll give them a bit longer but it’s not looking too good so far.
    .-= Judy´s last blog ..I think I have a problem… =-.

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  15. stefaneener on April 15, 2010 at 11:13 am

    That’s a great idea. Too bad my snapdragon seeds are too tiny to float. It would be like rescuing dust.
    .-= stefaneener´s last blog ..The queen is dead; long live the queen =-.

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  16. 'The Watchman' Hollyhock | Chiot's Run on July 9, 2010 at 4:47 am

    […] hollyhocks was black. I guess one of them germinated sometime last summer. You may remember that I used the floating method, which worked wonderfully. I was able to get 4 of the seeds to germinate. That means I’ll have […]

    Reply to ‘The Watchman’ Hollyhock | Chiot’s Run's comment

  17. ashley on May 6, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    I’m trying to grow my first hollyhocks from seed. I’m not sure what these are supposed to look like though. Do they bloom the first year?

    Reply to ashley's comment

    • Susy on May 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      No, they bloom the second year.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  18. Cene on March 23, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Delighted I saw this… guess it explains why I have such poor luck sowing directly in the ground. Just ordered single, pale peach seeds and can’t wait to try this out !

    Reply to Cene's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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