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PlantFiles: Hollyhock
Alcea rosea var. nigra

Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Alcea (al-KEE-uh) (Info)
Species: rosea var. nigra
Additional cultivar information: (aka Nigra)

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

54 members have or want this plant for trade.

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4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
Dark Purple/Black
Maroon (Purple-Brown)

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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7 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Mego27 On Apr 18, 2012, Mego27 from Louisville, KY wrote:

Started from seeds last year. Planted beside a concrete block shed in poor soil with no amendments. After an extremely mild winter in Kentucky the plant is almost 6 feet tall with numerous buds. It needs to be staked since we have had a very windy spring. I will pass along photos when it blooms!

Positive bazil323 On Aug 22, 2011, bazil323 from Cameron, WI (Zone 3b) wrote:

Wow! What amazing blooms! You'll definitely want to stake these. Mine were at least 6 feet tall and had blooms almost all the way up the stalk. I had thought they were done blooming about a week-2 weeks ago, so I was really surprised to find more blooms open today!

I'm definitely going to try to collect seeds from these and grow them in other areas/give some away to friends.

Positive CouchHogs On Jul 25, 2010, CouchHogs from Rockford, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

Taken from an excerpt from somewhere in my research.

Black Hollyhock was described as early as 1629 by John Parkinson, as being of a dark red-like black blood, an apt description for the large single flowers that grace this plant in June and July. The Boston nurseryman, John B. Russ, offered seeds of Black Antwerp Hollyhock: Althea nigra in a forty-two page catalogue published in 1827. Although classed as a biennial, Hollyhock often lives for several years, like a perennial. Sow seeds in summer. The plants will form large rosettes of round, hairy leaves by autumn, and will bloom the following summer with stalks 6 to 8 feet tall. Hollyhocks thrive in full sun and in soils that are not too rich or wet. Zones 3-8.

By the way, I highly recommend you stake this plant. Mine are surrounded on 3 sides by a wall behind & a bush each side. They were knocked down and bent my not-so strong winds. I have had some problems with powdery mildew-taken care of by a fungicide spray, Japanese beetles, this blue and red flying bugs that look somewhat like a moth, and leaf-miners.

Neutral mrs_colla On May 16, 2010, mrs_colla from Marin, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I planted mine form small pots last fall, and they have been growing into 7 feet tall plants, no flowers yet, fat buds yes.
The foliage is very ugly on my plant, it's rusty and has dried up leaves all over from the rust.
I will not replant it.

Positive fburg696 On Jan 17, 2008, fburg696 from Farmersburg, IN wrote:

I wish I could rate my experience with this plant as VERY POSITIVE because I really love this plant.It was one of the first plants in my garden.The color is very nice, great to have in the border.I have my whole sidewalk lined with these guys, a true sight for sore eyes.
I just can't say enough good things about this plant. I highly recommend it.

Positive gardenbugde On Jun 14, 2007, gardenbugde from Smyrna, DE (Zone 7a) wrote:

I started this from seed last summer and it wintered over very well. I didn't even bother to trim it back since it wasn't that tall. It grew like gangbusters this Spring and is now almost 3 feet high. It's first flower opened on June 12th. I love the color! I've read that you should cut back to 6" in the fall. I guess I'll have to do that this year. I'm trying to get some more to grow from seed. If I get seed from mine this year, I'll be happy to share with others!

Positive berrygirl On Mar 4, 2007, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

While I don't grow this particular named one, I do grow another "black" hollyhock- 'The Watchman'. In my humble, non-expert opinion there isn't much difference in them at all. The only differences I have noted are the fact that there are "black" single flowered varieties and also there are double flowered ones. Irregardless of what name they go by I love them!

Grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, but mentioned even earlier by John Parkinson in 1629. He described this single hollyhock as being "of a darke red like blackwood. Appears black on overcast days, but will have a hint of red in the bright sun. Plant next to a white fence for a spectacular contrast. Self-seeding biennial, 5-6' tall.

Neutral digging_dirt On Feb 7, 2006, digging_dirt from comebychance, NL (Zone 5b) wrote:

ped i think its a biannual most hollyhocks are,i know i grow night watchman it was a the nices hollyhock i ever grow and wouldnt you know it's a biannual what a bummer

Neutral Ped On Jul 31, 2003, Ped from Mt. Pearl, NL (Zone 5b) wrote:

When I bought this plant, it was called a Texas Hollyhock. when it bloomed, it was the most beautiful flower and I was so happy. That was last year, this year it did not return, at all.

Positive asturnut On Feb 1, 2003, asturnut from Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b) wrote:

Love this magnificent plant. The flowers are absolutely the closest you will find to black anywhere. I have several black hollyhocks and this one is the truest. Love it!

This is a biennial, which means it DIES after the 2nd year. If you get more years out of it, BE HAPPY. The best thing to do is plant the seeds in the fall and then the following year expect flowers. Repeat this cycle every year and you will always have lovely hollyhocks. Mine would grow to be about 8-10 feet tall. They take up a lot of real estate, but they're worth it!

Neutral Baa On Jan 15, 2003, Baa wrote:

One of the 'black' flowered cultivars of Hollyhock. It bears large, dark purple/maroon flowers with a pale yellow throat.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Anchorage, Alaska
Amesti, California
Emeryville, California
San Mateo, California
Smyrna, Delaware
Plainfield, Illinois
Rockford, Illinois
Springfield, Illinois
Farmersburg, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Dubuque, Iowa
Peosta, Iowa
Lansing, Kansas
Cumberland, Maryland
Madison Heights, Michigan
Webberville, Michigan
Mathiston, Mississippi
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
Granville, New York
Thomasville, North Carolina
Fargo, North Dakota
Warren, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (2 reports)
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Portland, Oregon
Coopersburg, Pennsylvania
Sumter, South Carolina
Lafayette, Tennessee
Rockwall, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Tremonton, Utah
Roanoke, Virginia
Cathan, Washington
Kalama, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Spokane, Washington
Elkins, West Virginia
Cameron, Wisconsin
Mukwonago, Wisconsin
Kinnear, Wyoming
Riverton, Wyoming
Sundance, Wyoming

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