Generally, I operate under the philosophy of just leaving things alone, and they’ll get better. Or as the adages say: “Don’t trouble trouble” and “Leave matters well enough alone.” This doesn’t work too well for health matters, relationships, or as it turns out, for gardening.
These old fashioned Hollyhocks have been a great filler for the flowerbed in the backyard for several years. Last year, near the end of the blooming season, the leaves didn’t look healthy. They were drying up, but, hey, the sun had been merciless, all summer.
But this late spring, when hollyhocks should be green and thriving, the leaves are already drying and the flowers are small. So after looking on the internet for hollyhock problems, I bought some Selvin for what I thought might be Japanese beetle damage.
But further reading indicated that Hollyhock rust, which is a fungus brought by rain and air currents, was probably the culprit. The fungus overwinters with plant debris and can then show up when the new plants emerge in the spring. Rain and dampness encourages the spread of this disease. Normally, that is definitely not a problem here. However, this spring, there have been many days with moisture in the air.
The solution is to destroy all diseased material. Big no-no is to put it into the compost pile. So I cut all stems to the ground that didn’t have any flower buds on them. I bagged these and they will go to the dump.
Then I stripped all leaves off of the other stalks and left only blooming flowers or buds. I also took a kitchen table knife and scraped all the spots off of the stems. Wise or not? Don’t know.
After the flowers disappear, I will cut all stalks flush with the ground. Everything goes into bags.
Wow, this would have taken less time if I had taken care of the problem last year.
So the pinkish red flowers on tall stalks are the few hollyhocks left. This bed may will look pretty sparse the rest of the summer. On the positive side, the hardy Hibiscus bush flowers in the center will showcase their beauty.
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant. “ Robert Louis Stevenson