Hollyhocks are handsome plants that give the garden vertical movement and bring a touch of nostalgia. They are usually treated as biennials so that seeds are collected in summer and then sown outdoors in fall. Young plants overwinter and bloom while the weather is cool in late spring or early summer. Hollyhocks are cross pollinated by insects so seed may be variable. When crosses occur double flowers are incompletely dominant over single so that after a couple of generations double, single and semidouble offspring may result. When selecting plants for seed saving look for resistance to rust, powdery mildew, and leaf spot.
The seeds of hollyhock are relatively large, flat and dry. They are produced in capsules that are at first green but turn brown as they ripen about two or three weeks after the petals of the flowers have faded.
Directions for Collecting Seed
1. When seed capsules are brown, dry and beginning to open pick them off the stalk. If the capsules don’t come off easily they are not ripe and you will have to wait a few days longer.
2. Remove the numerous seeds within the capsule with the fingers.
3. Dry the seeds on paper towels for a week or two.
4. Store in a paper bag labeled with the name of the plant and the color of the flowers.
5. Place the bag in a cool, dry, dark place.