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Help... I have some lovely Hollyhocks in the border which are growing really well, but the large leaves are being infested with rust on the underside.  As a result the leaves curl up and die.  This happens every year, the flower spike develops and flowers well but the plants look odd without their leaves.  What can I do to prevent this happening.  Thanks



  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,802

    You cant basically-there are rust resistant varieties but  according to reports these also sometimes succumb-unfortunately the spores remain in the soil so if your hollyhock gets it one year it will the next-the best thing to do is to raise new plants each year and then dispose after flowering

  • sterelitzasterelitza Posts: 109

    Thanks sotongeoff, it seems a pity to dispose of a plant that has been increasing in size and producing great blooms, but as you say if the spores remain in the soil the problem will persist.  I don't suppose there is any way of destroying the spores that remain in the soil.

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    Geoff's right - there's not an enormous amount that you can do about it. One thing I find that helps is to feed the plants very heavily - that encourages them to grow faster, and they can outgrow the rust for a time. You can also try spraying regularly with a fungicide, but will need to add a drop of soap to it to get it to stick to the leaves. Other than that - grow something tall in front of them to hide the bald stems.

  • sterelitzasterelitza Posts: 109

    Thanks Alina W.  I shall try everything you suggest as I want to keep these flowers in my garden as the bees love them and they are really pretty when in bloom.  Really striking blossoms which last for ages.  Slugs like them as well unfortunately!!

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    I have the same problem with mine, Sterelitza - it's the cost of living somewhere with clean air. Other than the extra feeding, I just ignore it now.


  • JunkbuyerJunkbuyer Posts: 48

    Been spraying mine and it has helped somewhat.

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  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    Hollie, you don't get rust if you live in a city - one of the common pollutants in the air controls it. I've known gardens with large patches of healthy, old hollyhocks where the garden was sited on a busy main road.

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,384

    I've had to give up growing hollyhocks due to increasingly severe rust each year - so much so that it weakened even new healthy plants within a season to the point that they looked pretty miserable!  Such a shame as I love them, especially as my garden is very much 'cottage' style.  I might give them another try, but in pots, next year, to keep them away from the soil.  Has anyone tried growing them in pots?  They'd have to be staked to prevent the wind blowing them over, although I could try part-burying the pots in the borders to provide stability.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    Yes, I have. They need a decent-sized pot (about 12" diameter), and plenty of water, but they do well.

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