DISEASES & PESTS OF THE HOLLYHOCK PLANT

Provided for you byWuv’n Acres Gourden©

PREVENTION, PREVENTION, PREVENTION….
the key to beautiful hollyhocks is not what it takes to get rid of diseases and pests.
It is ridding your plants of the problems before they happen.
Many folks call Hollyhocks ugly and troublesome. Well good gosh, look how beautiful they are!
Diseases, pests, insects and everything is attracted to them, and we can’t blame them!
But prevention is most important to a achieve a stunning display free of unattractive appearances.
Keep reading!

Hollyhocks develop a fungus called RUST which is caused by Puccinia malvacearum, an autoecious rust. The spores are carried by rainwater, spraying and sprinkling actions, so this is why you should not water the leaves of your Hollyhocks, but rather water them from underneath. I have to say that mine never develop rust until the dry heat of summer, when they are pretty much finished blooming anyhow. As I cut the seed heads off (use scissors or a snipper, don’t yank them!) I simply cut the stalk down to the next seed head and leave it that way if it is not yet ready to drop a particular seed head.

If you make trimming a habit, you will find that your hollyhocks stay neat and tidy. In early spring, be sure to remove as many weeds in the area of your hocks as you can, then as they progress, be sure to keep an eye under your plants, as many of the spring leaves may drag the ground after heavy rains. If you find any leaves in the mud while still attached to the plant, use clean and sharp scissors to cut the leaf (including the leaf stem) neatly from the plant. Dispose of these in the trash, not the compost pile. Try to keep the dropped leaves picked up or snipped off to reduce diseases such as rust, which can make a hollyhock look dreadful. Rust won’t kill your plant, but it will make you want to remove the entire thing! If the rust becomes too much for simple leaf removal, some gardeners want to remove the entire plant. Ah, the hollyhock. Not a plant for the fussy or hoity-toity gardener. You can put the brakes on the early rust signs with Schultz brand FUNGICIDE 3 with Neem Oil; which is a garden safe product.

Click the fungicide bottles to visit Schultz’ web site for more information about this spray.

Compare $5.88 for 24 oz. one shot use to $11.88 for 20 oz. concentrated to make 16 gallons

This product is now available in a concentrated form which you add to room temperature water, MUCH better price…about $11.88 makes 16 gallons versus $5.88 for one little spray bottle full of it. Make up only what you will use and don’t store the mixed product. Don’t spray the bees with it, either! You must apply treatment as soon as possible, so I’ve made it a habit to spray before the problems arise. I purchased an inexpensive sprayer for about $8.00 at Wal-Mart. This thing is a lifesaver when you have as many hocks as Wuv’n Acres Gourden, no sore thumbs!

Instructions are to repeat once a week, but if you spray early before any symptoms, you’ll only need to spray now and then to keep things in check. If a squirt of fungicide is all it takes to keep these beauties looking good, I’m there! This fungicide is all you will need for hock care. Rust, worms, bugs, everything.

As for the rust, Keep in mind that you should remove the tainted foliage with a sharp pair of garden shears or snippers. Dispose of all removed hock foliage in trash bags, NOT your compost pile.

INSECTS

Weevils, worms and more!

This is a wonderful worm known as a tent caterpillar or web worm. They like to curl up in a leaf, web it shut and begin having a family. You can spray these or remove them with your hands. (Wear gloves, please!) These worms leave behind what look like little mouse droppings. Again, I will advise using the fungicide above. I am not paid to advertise this product, I have just found it to WORK.

Above you will see a Hollyhock Weevil, also known as Apion longirostre. This little pain in the hollyhock has been around since 1907, from New York to Iowa and Kansas. It resembles a black beetle with a long nose, much like the Snuffleupagus. The female of the bunch has a longer snoot, with which she digs deep into your hollyhocks to plant her brood. These little buggers love to eat hollyhock seeds and will leave nothing but dust when they dine. August is the time you may see these nasty critters, so be watching for them. There are many ways to rid these bugs, but my preference is to place your seeds into a ziploc bag, shaking the seeds around to seek out the bugs, then squish the bag if you see any. Others would suggest spraying or dusting your hocks before the seed pods are formed, although I always advise using Scultz Fungicide 3 for any and all Hollyhock problems…worms, bugs, lacing, caterpillars, rust, everything.

A particular type of Hollyhock, often referred to as the FIG LEAF HOLLYHOCK
(Alcea ficifolia)
otherwise known as Antwerp Hollyhock, is much less prone to rust infection. Now while I do admit that I find this to be true, it is less prone to rust but seems more tasty to insects. In all honesty, I would rather have a rust issue than a bug issue, as the rust can be controlled when you spot it, but you don’t always spot the worms. They seem to gather on the undersides of your seemingly happy hocks only to form large groups who seem to all begin eating at the blow of a worm whistle. Trade off my standard hocks for Fig hocks? Not me. You simply snip off the most infected leaves with rust, but try cutting off all of your leaves due to worms and you’ll quickly learn to dislike the look of hollyhocks in your garden.
Having said that, don’t let that keep you from planting Figs, but do keep an extra eye out for worms and insects.

Photos above show a Fig leaf next to a standard Hollyhock leaf

You will be able to recognize the fig leaved variety when it is just a seedling, as the leaves are of a different texture than the standard hollyhock and have an almost grayish tint to the green foliage. The Fig leaved hollyhocks have smaller leaves, and as they grow, the leaves take on a shape you can easily distinguish. If you end up with these, consider yourself growing good hollyhocks!
(of course, this does not mean the standard variety are not worthy of planting!)

LACING

If your hollyhock leaves look more like fine lace and skeletons, you’ve got an infestation of the Sawfly, also known as Hibiscus Sawfly; caterpillars of Atomacera decepta. Look for itty bitty green worms under the leaves. These are much like the European Rose Slug, another sawfly Rose growers detest. You’ll easily miss them unless you happen to catch the dirty little suckers, but trust me, you’ll find them trying to blend in with the foliage. These worms are nasty little things on your hollyhocks. Tiny little worms can band together and turn your hock leaves into lace in no time. Be sure to keep an eye out for leaves which look like skeletons without greenery as shown below:

Here are the charming little darlings eating the leaves of my hollyhocks:

Use Schultz brand Fungicide 3 to keep these critters off your plants, but get them early!
Do frequent checks under your leaves…don’t wait until they’ve already attended the Hollyhock Leaf Buffet in your garden.

Fertilizing

When to plant

Which variety is which?

Cross pollination issues

Cleaning up after your Hocks

Our available colors in seed form

Diseases and pest of the Hollyhock

Harvesting seeds / cutting back stalks

Did you know? Fun trivia about hollyhocks

Full sun / part sun / location for your hollyhocks

Moving your plants from one location to another

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