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Alcea rosea - Hollyhocks

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Hollyhocks or Alcea rosea are large perennial honey plants with floral stems up to 2.50 m (8ft) tall. They are a true flowering spectacle throughout the summer. These plants are often grown as biennials, the flowers are about 10 cm (4in) in diameter and come in a wide variety of colours. The flowers are presented in a cup or pompom shape, while the lobed and rough leaves are 15 cm (6in) long. Formerly called Althaea, these easy-to-grow plants like rich, well-drained soil and sunny locations but they demand some shelter from the wind that can flatten their stems. Hollyhocks are very susceptible to rust. Treat preventively in the spring with Bordeaux mixture. Single-flowering varieties are more resistant. These are a must-have in every country garden. They bring height to the back of flowerbeds but also along a wall or in front of a hedge of conifers as well as in borders. What's more, they are self-seeding. Furthermore, they are edible, they have medicinal properties when used in teas for treating coughs, colds and bronchitis. The flowers can be used raw in salads and the flower buds can be stuffed. They are also delicious in jam!

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