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Old 01-27-2012, 09:48 AM
 
16,089 posts, read 21,317,483 times
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Hi, I have a sweet little 100+ yr old cottage home. I used to drive by it years ago, and always admired the profuse hollyhock bed on the side of the house.

I have now lived here and owned the house for about 4 yrs. The last 2 years my hollyhocks have gotten some sort of rust type disease, which I have tried everything to kill. I think it started w/ a local flooding problem.
I am so sad, because these flowers are perhaps very, very old as the house is antique. I have literally cut them down this last spring, read it would help...well before fall in an effort to make sure the bed was clear of all debris before winter.

I have researched and tried every website article, each piece of advice that I've found, even neem oil, the over the counter sprays, hardly affordable because there is a huge bed the length of the house. I adore these plants, for their old fashioned appeal, plus I feel a responsibility to keep them healthy. I actually have folks stop and ask for seeds. I packed seeds and handed them out at my last rummage sale. I so enjoy this typical N.D. neighborly interaction. Please help?? Spring is coming, and I have no idea what else to try. Any tips, hints advise would be so appreciated!!! Thanks in advance. And, if I can figure out how to put some pics of my hollyhocks, off my old phone, on here I will asap.

Last edited by JanND; 01-27-2012 at 09:55 AM.. Reason: punctuation
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Old 01-27-2012, 10:45 AM
 
Location: Former LI'er Now Rehoboth Beach, DE
9,737 posts, read 12,343,956 times
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I assume that you have tried corn meal and milk. Which is what I used on mine. Have you checked the soil ? They are very adversely affected by stress, ie. too dry, too wet and they love good nutritious soil. Have you tried to add compost and have you take a soil sample to your local Board of Cooperative extension? Call them if you can, they can be very helpful. The flooding may have stripped the nutrients from the soil.

Last edited by nuts2uiam; 01-27-2012 at 10:46 AM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-27-2012, 11:30 AM
 
Location: Land of Free Johnson-Weld-2016
6,472 posts, read 14,696,055 times
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Default Do not Sweat the Rust.

I also grow hollyhocks organically. I originally got seeds because I read they're edible. At any rate, my hollyhocks also have rust, and according to online sources rust is a widespread disease of hollyhocks. It is in almost all the soils, and there's nothing apart from using chemicals you can do to stop it, IMHO.

I would wager that everyone who grows hollyhocks in the US has rust, and that's the reason I won't buy new ones, although I do let the others reseed. It is not your fault.

My hollyhocks manage to grow and bloom and set seed before the rust completely engulfs the leaves. Using mulch seems to slow the infection down a little.
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Old 01-27-2012, 12:37 PM
 
25,627 posts, read 32,298,894 times
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Organic Solutions

Milk/water 1/9 parts in a sprayer weekly during growing season.

1 tablespoon baking soda and 2 tablespoon horticultural oil per gallon of water. Add a few drops of mild dish soap as a surfactant.

I would spray weekly with either solution. I prefer the Baking soda one here in California because it works rather well at controlling Powdery mildew and black spot which we have more problems with here.

I understand the milk one works real well for rust issues if you spray consistently.
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Old 01-27-2012, 01:04 PM
 
Location: rain city
2,958 posts, read 11,759,225 times
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I love hollyhocks too. I took this photo in Suzdal Russia, hollyhocks love Russia they absolutely thrive. They may be a different strain of seed than ours, as Russian gardeners save and trade seeds locally.
Attached Thumbnails
HollyHocks questions.......-suzdal2007-025.jpg  
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Old 01-27-2012, 02:08 PM
 
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First of all your clean up will make a big difference in how this year's crop will do. It's a great start. The rust is common to several plants that can harbor it and re-infect the Hollyhocks. If the Hollyhocks are the single most important plants to you in the garden remove any of the following from close by to reduce reinfection from them: any plant with "mallow" or "malva"in its name (eg. false mallow, rose mallow (hibiscus) (rose of sharon), Malva, Indian Mallow (flowering maple)).

Thin out the hollyhocks so there is more breathing room and air circulation between plants, the less air circulating the greater the chance of the rust taking hold. Lots of plants together may be pretty but it is a recipe for rust disaster!

Clean out the existing mulch now and replace with fresh new mulch. Look up mallow weeds, learn what they look like and make sure to keep them away from your garden. Here's some examples: Malva neglecta - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Malva parviflora - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrastii) The weeds are good at carrying the problem fungus.

Follow Bulldog's advice. Fungicide treatment can begin before the plants begin growing again and wettable sulfur applications are often recommended for this and later in the season. It should be available at a local nursery. Here's a link that is a midwestern source appropriate to your conditions on how to use the sulfur along with other information on fungus in general: http://www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/bp/bp-69-w.pdf

As the Hollyhocks grow remove any leaf that shows signs of rust, don't wait for the plant to become engulfed as this is exactly the wrong way to keep the rust from spreading. By removing signs of the disease frequently (daily is best) you will reduce the exposure of the rest of the plants. Throw out all leaves and plant parts showing any signs of infection do not put them in the compost pile.

I can't grow Hollyhocks anymore because I live in a much more humid and windy environment than I used to, making it nearly impossibe. I'm hoping you'll have a fairly dry summer to get things sorted out.

Last edited by J&Em; 01-27-2012 at 02:12 PM.. Reason: added link
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Old 01-27-2012, 03:48 PM
 
16,089 posts, read 21,317,483 times
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Thank you all so much. Some really wonderful suggestions. I am certainly going to try the milk spray, as well as the other suggestions. I am keeping my fingers crossed. I truly appreciate each of you for taking the time to respond to my question.
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Old 01-31-2012, 02:29 PM
 
Location: Land of Free Johnson-Weld-2016
6,472 posts, read 14,696,055 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azoria View Post
I love hollyhocks too. I took this photo in Suzdal Russia, hollyhocks love Russia they absolutely thrive. They may be a different strain of seed than ours, as Russian gardeners save and trade seeds locally.
I wonder. One of the catalogs I get listed a different strain of Hollyhocks that are supposedly rust-resistant, and if I recall correctly, the resistant ones had an Eastern European origin. I would be ecstatic to see a rust-resistant strain of the regular old hollyhocks, though. They're lovely flowers and reseed (yay) pretty well.

BTW guys, hee hee hee, when I listed that I garden "organically" I meant I am "lazy." I figure if I have to spray things on the plant, it doesn't belong in my garden. Unfortunately, like the OP I really love Hollyhocks, so I may try the milk.
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Old 01-31-2012, 03:03 PM
 
Location: rain city
2,958 posts, read 11,759,225 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kinkytoes View Post
I figure if I have to spray things on the plant, it doesn't belong in my garden.
So true. Failure to thrive and/or persistent disease problems should be grounds for banishment from the garden.

There are just too many plants in the world to coerce cooperation from unsuited and poor performing contenders.
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Old 01-31-2012, 04:46 PM
 
Location: Little Rock AR USA
2,457 posts, read 6,595,892 times
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JanND, you really stirred up some very very old memories. My grandparents raised me, on a farm, and in one corner of her yard granny had a big hollyhock patch. She just left it alone and let it grow and I don't remember any disease problems with them. In fact, I don't remember any plant diseases of any kind, bugs yes, but disease, no. Of course that was over 80 years ago. My how times change.
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