Do hollyhocks flower in the first year? Experts reveal all – plus tips on how to get early blooms

These spires of blooms are a summertime favorite, but you aren't necessarily guaranteed to see their vibrant flowers in the first year

Do hollyhocks flower in the first year
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There are a few flowers that instantly come to mind when you think of summer and hollyhocks are certainly one of them. Their tall spires of spectacular blooms are a showstopper to include in your yard, standing tall with bold pops of color.

But are you guaranteed to see flowers in the first year of growing hollyhocks? When planting hollyhock seeds, it's important to be aware that there are biennial and perennial varieties, meaning they either come back each year or every other year. Many biennials and perennials will take their time to establish and won't necessarily flower in the first year.

We've asked experts about hollyhocks flowering in the first year and they've shared all we need to know about successfully growing these blooms.


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Do hollyhocks flower in the first year?

When exploring flower bed ideas and choosing to plant a flower bed, you should be aware that not all flowers will bloom in the first year of being planted. Those that are perennial or biennial will take a bit longer to establish than annual flowers.

'Several types of hollyhocks are biennials, finishing their life cycle over a span of two years,' says Alex Kantor, owner of Perfect Plants Nursery. 'During the initial year, they prioritize foliage growth and energy storage, with the subsequent year marked by the growth of stalks, blooming and seed formation,' he adds.

You typically sow hollyhock seeds in early summer. The first year of growth is then focused on establishing the plant and in most cases you won't see hollyhock flowers until the following year.

Alex Kantor pictured with dog
Alex Kantor

Alex has worked in the horticultural industry for over 20 years and grew up on the farm since his childhood years. Alex is an expert on landscape trees, shrubs, and indoor plants. He is passionate about growing and helping others learn the trade. 

Getting hollyhocks to flower in the first year


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'Although, some hollyhock varieties exhibit characteristics akin to short-lived perennials and might flower in their first year if planted in early spring or started indoors during winter,' says Alex.

It's possible to encourage hollyhocks to flower in the first year if planted early enough and in warm conditions, such as sowing seeds indoors and transplanting seedlings outside when the weather warms up.

'I planted my hollyhocks by transplant, which is likely why they are blooming in the first year,' says Jen McDonald from Garden Girls. 'When planted by seed, the plant needs time to set roots and establish foliage. If you are in a hurry to see blooms, start hollyhock by transplant,' she adds.

If you want to grow hollyhocks via this method, experts recommend transplanting seedlings during summer, to ensure it is supported by warm conditions. You can even try using DIY indoor greenhouses to help establish your hollyhock seedlings in winter and spring.

Experts also note that you can feed your hollyhocks to encourage blooms. 'A slow-release, balanced fertilizer is great for biennials as it will slowly feed the plant over a sustained period,' says Meredith Bishop, sustainable flower grower and owner of Bloom and Bounty.

You can find lots of balanced fertilizers on the market, such as this all-purpose balanced fertilizer from Amazon.

Jen McDonald
Jen McDonald

Jen McDonald is a garden expert and co-founder of Garden Girls, LLC, based in Houston, TX. With 14 raised garden beds and 400 square feet of garden space, Jen grows cut flowers to peanuts, amaranth to okra, and everything in between.

smiling headshot of Meredith Bishop wearing a dress
Meredith Bishop

Meredith Bishop is a sustainable flower grower specializing in old-world blooms grown from seed in her gardens in urban Nashville, Tennessee. She also operates a retail design studio in Nashville, and enjoys teaching, speaking and writing about all aspects of flower gardening. 

Grow hollyhocks at home


Will hollyhocks rebloom if cut back?

Hollyhocks are beautiful flowers that bloom from summer to fall. Their flowers will be spent at the end of fall, when many choose to cut the plant back. There are a couple of things you can do with hollyhocks after flowering.

If you deadhead fading hollyhock flowers, you may be able to encourage a second round of blooms in the same season. Otherwise, you can leave the plant to go to seed and naturally spread to self-sow new plants. Hollyhock varieties are considered biennial and perennial, so cutting them back after flowering will encourage returning blooms in their next flowering season.

It is unlikely that hollyhocks will flower in the first year if directly planted in soil. However, you may be able to encourage first year blooms by sowing seeds early or starting them indoors before transplanting seedlings to your yard in summer.

If you do want to sow hollyhock seeds indoors, try making a DIY seed tray and watch out for seed sowing mistakes.

Tenielle Jordison
News Writer (Gardens)

Tenielle is a News Writer in the Gardens team at Homes & Gardens with five years of journalistic experience. She studied BA Journalism, Media and English Literature and MA Magazine Journalism at Cardiff University. Before coming to Homes & Gardens, Tenielle was in the editorial department at the Royal Horticultural Society and worked on The Garden magazine. She is passionate about sustainable living and likes to encourage gardeners to make greener choices to help tackle the effects of climate change with a trowel in hand. Tenielle is also a houseplant lover who is slowly running out of room for her ever-growing collection.