July's plant of the month at suburban-garden is alcea rosea (hollyhock). They come in a variety of colours which is usually the result of cross-pollination but that does not detract from their irresistable charm.

Quick facts


Native to China, hollyhocks are part of mallow (Malvaceae) family. These tough, drought-resistant plants are usually perennial although some can be biennial. What's more they are relatively easy to look after. All they need is sun and a sheltered spot away from the wind, ideally next to a fence or wall (but then I plant mine right in the middle of my garden and they are thriving).


During the spring slugs go for young leaves however as plants get bigger this problem tends to disappear. Hollyhocks can be plagued by rust but all you need to do is cut off all the leaves and the stem in the autumn. Then burn the affected foliage. I've change my mind on how to keep rust at bay. Basically leave them be apart from taking off affected leaves. The more healthier plants tend to live in between pavements and tight spaces without much recourse to soil and water.


I'm biased. I have been ever since I discovered these plants growing in my gran's garden when I caught the gardening bug, and I've marvelled over them ever since.


Family: Malvaceae

Average height: up to 2m

Average spread: up to 60cm

Flowers between: Jul - Sep

Soil type: fertile, well-drained

Sun/shade: sun

Hardiness: fully hardy


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