I wrote about Hollyhock or Alcea rosea or Althaea rosea almost 9 years ago, but today as I was walking in the Bankside area of London I came across it on the sidewalk and it was such a wonderful display I decided to mention this flower again. I had never seen Alcea rosea planted in the street. They are deciduous biennials, or sometimes perennials and they can grow pretty tall almost 2m or 7ft. They are native to Asia and Europe.
Alcea rosea usually flowers end of spring and in the summer and adds such beautiful presence to borders because of their heights and colors as they are available in red, white, pink, purple, and even yellow. They have interesting round leaves as well. Alcea rosea loves full sun and well-drained soil. It usually adapts to different soil types. It is sturdy but since it is so tall sometimes you need to use stakes to support it. You can propagate Alcea rosea from seeds planted usually during winter so they are ready to be planted in the final location in spring, however, protect them from slugs. You can cut them back after flowering or let it form seeds if you plan to collect the seeds.
Also, interesting trivia about Hollyhock is that in Japan during the Edo period 1600-1868 Tokugawa Shogunate or Shoguns adopted the Hollyhock leaves in their emblem.
If you don’t cut down Alcea rosea it will probably self-seed and you will easily continue to enjoy the beauty for years, seeds usually ripen the end of summer from August to October. These plants attract birds and bees but they are rabbit resistant. Hollyhock has both medicinal uses and is also used in foods. You might find the leaves or flowers in salads and also flower petals are sometimes used as a tea. But you should usually consult more documentation or a doctor before consuming any plant even if it is identified as edible. It is also used in papermaking and dyes.