Methinks this could be interpreted two ways . . . a biennial plant often produces many flowers during one long flowering period. Think of e.g. a Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) producing 100 flowers sequentially over two or three weeks. Has it flowered once, or a hundred times?
Guess it might be misconstrued as a trick question, but it's not, really.
I do love the way many biennials produce seed consistantly enough over time, that they start to seem more of a perennial.
I try never to take that fact for granted, tho- or sure enough, nothings there the next year. Sometimes, a little "help" is needed by doing some hand broadcasting of fresh seed every few years, here in my area. :-)
I'm saying many times because all of the supposedly biennial plants that I've ever planted have turned themselves into perennials in my yard. Maybe they'll be short lived ones, but the same plants have definitely bloomed again for a couple years in a row. I know that's not the technically correct answer, but that's been my experience.
I was surprised to see hollyhocks on the list. Others on the list in wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biennial_plant are parsley, Lunaria, silverbeet, sweet William, colic weed, carrot, pansy, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, parsley, and Swiss chard. "Plant breeders have produced annual cultivars of several biennials that will flower the first year from seed, e.g. foxglove, stock, and hollyhock.'
Most of these things are probably affected by the climate. A biennial would have to go through a freeze cycle to be true. It would grow from seed, freeze down in the fall & grow again the next summer & produce it's flower & seeds. Most biennials reseed themselves, ie, Hollyhocks.
Hey BC--I think your black hollyhocks are the same as mine, which are Nigra. I should say "were". They did not come back this year for the first time in four or five years. So...if they are biennials, did they just not reseed themselves? None of my hollyhocks came back this year and they were all started at different times.
QueenB, Do you have primrose or evening primrose? Sounds like evening primrose and that comes as annual, biennial, or perennial. The biennials are tall (4 feet). The perennials are short (6-10 inches).
Gardengram - my black ones took 2 years from seed to flower, the ones that flowered their first year I think were the Chatter's line? My hollyhocks stay green under the snow all winter is how I know they are not new plants that flower.
My hollyhocks are Nigra. I got tons of seeds from them last year and left a few to fall on the ground. So I have a new generation beginning. I also had this uncommon black one. Unlike Nigra, it has petaloids in the center which give it almost a double look. It too is now loaded with buds again.
Ah yes... fond memories of zone 5 gardening: my garden was comprised of toxic, invasive and large-to-very-large plants. My favourite biennials were foxglove in the toxic category and dipsacus laciniatus (cut-leaf teasel).
For a while there, I couldn't get the foxglove to reseed itself until someone from the botanical garden mentionned that a bed of gravel at the base of the plants would improve the seeds' chances of germinating and showing up the year after. It worked.
The cut-leaf teasel was a notorious invasive and quite large at 7 feet. It didn't need any help. I have moved but this plants' seeds have taken over many a hedge and badly maintained garden.
In the extremely toxic plant department, I featured heracleum mantegazzianum. Suffice it to say that after planting that, I told the grass contractor not to go into the garden any more.
Oh, how I miss that garden but it's OK because now I'm in zone 10-B and I'm having the time of my life with all those tropicals and exotics.
Mine are the ones that grow wild around here and form what looks like a small shrub or tree. They can get quite leggy. It takes them two years to bloom. They make a nice bunch of bushy plants the first year, then lovely bushes with yellow flowers the next, but for the rest of your life you will be digging the seedlings out of your yard.
Resin, some (perhaps many or even most) hollyhocks are indeed short lived perennials. My barnyard variety, though, are biennials. My first year plants stay green during the winter and then bloom the following season, and then die.
Some things that are biennial (or whatever) in their native climate may behave differently in other climates. Also, what the nursery trade markets as something ("annual", for example) may behave differently in its native climate or outside of what seems to be the gardening standard climates, i.e. zones 4 through 8.
I said once, but that is a very ambiguous question. If you plant them in the fall you will get flowers by spring (in two seasons)...not two years...also many reseed so can continue to bloom for years...(I think I am right but I'm usually wrong) LOL
True biennials bloom once in their second year. Plant breeders have altered some biennials in many ways. Foxy a variety of foxglove has become anything from an annual to a short lived perennial depending ujpon ones luck.