Double Hollyhock ‘Peaches ‘n Dreams’

I’m glad I didn’t register the name of this hollyhock (Alcea rosea) variety, ‘Peaches ‘n Dreams,’ before I bought and planted it because… The Cheese. God knows I will buy and grow a plant specifically for The Cheese, but there is some cheese that is just too much Lifetime, made-for-TV-movie, Sunday afternoon drama for even me. It was probably the “‘n” that took it over the top. No, I retract. It was the wistful use of “dreams.”

And to think I was cocky enough to believe that I could grow a hollyhock without rust developing. Rust is the scourge of hollyhocks everywhere. I have never seen a hollyhock without it. EVER.

But I have free-draining sandy soil!” I declared to no one. “Air circulation is the key!

In the beginning I was diligent in removing and discarding the affected leaves. But now that the plant is blooming and nearing its end AND I’ve decided that I will not bother with hollyhocks again, the end — I haven’t been particularly speedy in their removal.

Oh, and guess what else came with the hollyhocks? The hollyhock weevil (Rhopalapion longirostre), tiny little grey beetles that are sort of cute, but pesky. I first noticed them because there were ants up near the buds and when I see ants crawling around a plant like that I know they are up to some sort of unfortunate business. In this case they seem to be protecting the beetles. They got aggressive with me whenever I went to squish the beetles — I often had to flick the ants off first before I could deal with the beetles.

The beetles lay eggs inside the hollyhock buds. I know this because I observed little larvae eating away from inside. So then I had to take care of them as well. As my neighbour bashfully says, “Making the sex“, is all the beetles seem to do: that and lay eggs. I always find them in pairs, one on top of the other, if you know what I mean. I can’t figure out what the ants get in exchange for their diligent security detail. I also can’t figure out when the weevils have time to eat, let alone wash the dishes, drive the kids to soccer, or put dinner on the table.

Oh, hollyhock. It’s a pretty plant to be sure, but too much trouble in my opinion. Now to plan what will go in its place when I yank it.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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4 thoughts on “Double Hollyhock ‘Peaches ‘n Dreams’

  1. This is why I have ever resisted the temptation to plant this beautiful, beautiful bloom. My sister lives in Indiana and has one planted by a former owner (she does not garden as a cardinal rule) it’s right next to the back entrance door full of ants. They are everywhere and as you say, usually up to no good.They are such enablers. Anyway, the leaves look like that and worse. Bees buzzing about. You can imagine it’s war just to get inside the door. It’s horrid. She planned to have it dug out and discarded. On the other hand my neighbor down the street has several and so far they are taller than me and just gorgeous. But most I’ve seen end up looking like those in your photos. Why, why, why…

  2. Ha! How could a plant with a name like that be anything but high maintenance? I’ve been meaning to try some myself, but had no idea they were so much trouble.

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