A classic cottage garden staple, hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) bloom mid-summer with numerous flowers on tall spikes. Many of the most common varieties are biennials, meaning they complete their lifecycle over 2 years. The first year is spent growing foliage and storing energy. In the second year, the stalks shoot up, flowers bloom and seeds form. However, there are also many varieties that behave like short-lived perennials and will flower in their first year when planted early enough in spring or started indoors in winter.
Other than staking and cutting the stalks back after flowering, hollyhocks really don’t require much maintenance, but they do need to be protected from insects and fungal diseases such as rust. Hollyhocks support the lifecycle of painted lady butterflies as a host plant for their caterpillars and also attract other pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds. If you’ve got a cottage garden, it’s just not complete without a few hollyhocks gracing the edges.