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.