Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Time to Garden – Part 6
My beautiful hollyhocks, Spring Celebration Crimson and Spring Celebration Pink, which I bought on July 24 are not looking so good. I planted as directed, full sun in a sheltered corner of the house, but they are withering and looking like they are burning up.
This morning I was going to move them to the side of the house, but when I checked them, it dawned on me that the problem is what is known as rust. Rust on hollyhocks is a fungus and starts as lemon-yellow to orange spots. The spores can easily travel in their air from other gardens.
The disease starts on the lower leaves, but if not taken care of, it will spread to upper leaves, stems, and calyx (the outer part of the flower). The leaves shrivel and mine are turning a grayish-brown which was why I thought they weren’t getting enough water. And now the plants are full of those orange spots now.
Some websites say it is prevalent this year and to treat with a fungicide and another site says the fungicides don’t work. The sites also say to destroy the plants if heavily affected. My plants are only a couple weeks old, so before I do that, I headed off to Agway to talk to the gardener there.
Melissa is great and has given me great advice on purchasing flowers this year. She wasn’t surprised. She said it’s because of the extreme humidity we’ve been having. She said to definitely not destroy the plants and the fungicide (a sulphur product) will save the plants. They will look awful for the rest of this season, but next spring they should come back fine.
I gave my hollyhocks a heavy dose of powder and planted the new hibiscus. Later, I looked up the information again to include it in the reference book I’m putting together on the plants in my yard. Now I see that hibiscus are also susceptible to rust. Luckily my hibiscus look good right now, but I will keep an eye out.
I’ve been lucky so far with the gardening this year. This is the first major problem with the beautiful flowers. Yes, I do have Japanese beetles, too.
My mother used to grow hollyhocks. I remember them growing up the side of the house near the chimney where I used to play ball. Now that I think about it, I remember her plants getting those orange spots sometimes.