Jill enjoys cooking, abstract painting, stewardship & learning about gardening through the MD Native Plant Society.
Saving Hollyhock Seeds: It's as Easy as 1-2-3!
Saving hollyhock seed is super easy. In fact, because the seed pods and the seeds themselves are large and easy to handle, saving hollyhock seeds is a fun project for children as well as adults.
"The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies."
— Gertrude Jekyll
Saving the seed can be done in three easy steps:
- Harvest hollyhock seed from seed pods.
- Clean and dry the seed.
- Package the hollyhock seed for storage.
And you don't need any special equipment, just ordinary household items:
- paper bags,
- paper towels,
- and/or empty glass jars.
Harvesting Hollyhock Seeds
At the end of the growing season (late summer or early fall), rather than picking the flowers on your hollyhocks, allow them to "go to seed" on the stalks.
When hollyhock flowers go to seed, they shrivel and turn brown. Eventually, the petals fall to the ground, leaving large, fuzzy, brown pods behind. These pods are seed pods, and they contain hollyhock seeds.
When they've dried to a medium brown on the stalk, it's time to harvest them.
To harvest hollyhock seeds, simply snap the hollyhock seed pods off the stalks with your fingers, dropping them into a brown paper bag. (If you want to sow them instead of saving them, autumn is also the ideal time for that. Simply scatter the seeds onto rich, fertile soil in a sunny spot in your garden, one that's appropriate for tall flowers like hollyhocks, and cover them lightly with soil.)
Keep the hollyhock seed pods in the paper bag until you're ready to begin the cleaning and drying process, which is the next step in saving hollyhock seeds.
Cleaning and Drying the Seeds
To prepare harvested hollyhock seed for storage, crack open the seed pods, separating the seeds and discarding the pod.
Hollyhock seeds are rather large and flat. Inside the pod, they tend to stick together, and you'll probably have to separate them from each other using your fingernails. With tweezers (or your fingers—the pieces will be quite large), remove any debris or chaff.
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Once you start handling the seeds, you'll realize that, despite the brown and shriveled appearance of the pods, the seeds aren't really dry. They still contain moisture and must be allowed to dry more before storage.
To remove the excess moisture, place the hollyhock seeds on paper towels, wax paper, or old window screens and allow them to air dry for about a week. Don't leave them much longer, as they'll begin to absorb the moisture instead of losing it, something you definitely don't want.
Storing Hollyhock Seed
If dried thoroughly and stored properly, hollyhock seeds will remain viable for a long time—about nine years!
If storing more than one type of seed, place them in labeled envelopes and then put the envelopes in a sealable glass container, such as a Mason jar.
If storing only one type of seed, simply place it directly in a small glass container, i.e., an old spice jar. Again, be sure to label the container, writing the seed name and date stored on the outside.
Although many gardeners successfully store seed in film canisters and plastic tubs, some evidence suggests that the gases emitted by plastics may adversely affect germination rates.
Once it's packaged and labeled, store the hollyhock seed in the refrigerator or the freezer until you're ready to sow it. (Seed stored in the freezer will last longer--if it's been properly dried beforehand.)
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Do hollyhock sees grow in sandy ground?
Answer: Hollyhocks do best in rich, moist soil with good drainage. Extremely sandy soil may be too dry or lack adequate nutrients. For best results, work a few inches of compost into the sandy soil. You should aim for 6.0 to 8.0 pH.
Question: How old is too old for saving hollyhock seeds from my mother (not in refrigerator) from 1997?
Answer: From what I've read, the seed probably isn't viable; however, I can't see any harm in planting some in the fall to find out. You can also conduct viability tests on a few: http://www.stuewe.com/blog/2016/05/12/how-to-find-...
Question: Will my seeds that I have had for 4 years still grow if I didn’t refrigerate them?
Answer: Seeds don't have to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. They're just more viable for longer if they are stored that way.
Question: I don’t see anything in my dried double flower pods that look like the pictures you have. Am I not looking at the right thing? These are the blooms that fell off that I picked up and let dry.
Answer: Let the flowers go to seed on the plant. When they go to seed, they will look like the photos in the article-- with developed seeds that you can collect, dry, and store.
© 2013 Jill Spencer
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on August 29, 2020:
Hi, Sandbug! If the pods have gone to seed, by all means go ahead and cut down the stems. You might want to throw the pods into a paper bag to continue drying, then shake them real good before you remove the seeds and dry them on paper towels. Sometimes when I do this, most of the seeds fall out of the pods on their own in the bag, making it easier to separate the seeds from the chaff. Have fun!
sandbug on August 29, 2020:
hi Jill--my hollyhocks are in a wooden wine barrel and for quite a while have been all dry with pods but the pods wont snap off--if I cut the stalks would i be able to use the seeds from the pods or would it ruin them? I am still watering because there are other plants in the barrel.I assume that by October the pods will snap off but hate to put up with the way it looks
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on August 15, 2020:
Hi, Ed! Yes, the seed pods become rather fuzzy as they dry on the stalk. The seeds, of course, are inside them.
Ed Kramer on August 15, 2020:
I bought some Hollyhock seeds that look like small black kidney beans. Is this what's inside the round "fuzzy" thing?
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on August 22, 2019:
Lol "Hocks for her middle name"! What a great story. You made my day.
Patsi Morgan on August 22, 2019:
fond memory of Hollyhocks. Our little sister was born 10 yrs after me, 14 yrs from my older sis. as we had Hollyhocks growing alongside our house I asked my Mom if we could name her Holly, she said yes, and Hocks for her middle name? Mom said NO. lol Have that old fashioned one growing along with 4 newer, single wht, blk, lt pink and dbl dark pink. love them
Noreen kane on July 17, 2018:
Kaye Hayes, mine too came back this year despite the terrible winter we had in Ireland. Never saved seeds before but will certainly try it this year.
Great article Jill. Thank you
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 13, 2018:
Burgandy sounds gorgeous, Kaye. If only you and Dolores lived near each other, you could share! Thanks for leaving a comment.All the best, Jill
Kaye Hayes on July 13, 2018:
Dolores, I planted Hollyhocks about five years ago and just chopped them down in the Autumn clean up. Two of them have come back every year since in spite of the terrible winter here in Ireland last year. This year I will save seeds to pass on to anyone that wants them. The single flower Burgundy coloured on has reached about 10/12 feet tall this year. The other is smaller but a lovely fluffy white.
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on January 01, 2017:
Dolores, I've no idea why I didn't respond to your comment previously. Sorry I missed it! I hope your seeds did well. I planted a few single petal variety seeds from a gardening friend last spring and some nice mounds of squash-like plants this year. I'm interested to see what color flowers they will produce next summer. Best, Jill
Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on July 17, 2015:
I love hollyhocks but have never had much success with them. They don't come back the next year. I love to get seeds from friends. Many of the plants in my garden are from friends or relatives. I am going to try to raise my own from seeds next year, see how it goes. (voted up and shared)
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on February 01, 2014:
Hi Alan. Nice to hear from you! I don't think the hollyhock is related to the sunflower, although with their tall presence in the garden they are reminiscent of them. Hollyhocks are part of the Mallow family, while sunflowers are in the same family as daisies and asters. I found some cool hollyhock seeds this summer at a fair--the outhouse collection (lol)--and am going to try them this spring. Wish me luck@! Thanks for commenting on this hub. All the best, Jill
Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on January 30, 2014:
Hollyhocks are an old standby in English gardens, north and south. We had them alongside our garden path when I lived on Teesside (at that time the North Riding). I think they reminded Dad of where he lived in the country. A few of his aunts' farms had them growing at the front.
Are they related to the sunflower? There's something of the primeval in them, I think.
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on November 26, 2013:
I sure will stop by. Your story concept interests me greatly! I've been to Historic St. Mary's City many times. --Jill
William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on November 25, 2013:
I grew up on an Iowa farm loving hollyhocks! Small world! Currently, I'm writing a family saga set of hubs based in Colonial Maryland where one of my ancestral lines began... hope you can stop by and visit. ;-)
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 03, 2013:
This year our hollyhocks are only about three feet tall. Don't know why, but ... I probably won't collect seeds from this year's batch! Thanks for commenting, W1totalk!
W1totalk on July 03, 2013:
Great article. Simple way to harvest Holly hocks.
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on April 07, 2013:
Yep, it time to plant, Jackie! I need to get out there, too. Nice to hear from you! -Jill
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on April 06, 2013:
Glad I ran across this, it reminds me I need to be finding mine and getting them in the ground! I love them! Thanks for the storage info, too!
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on April 05, 2013:
Wow, Deb! You were lucky, girl! I usually get weeds. Have a good weekend!--J
Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on April 05, 2013:
Hollyhocks are such beautiful flowers. A friend gave me a rosebush once, and lo and behold, within it was a lovely hollyhock. What a bonus!
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on April 04, 2013:
I like them to, faythef. They're fun to grow--even though it seems like just about every insect in the world thinks they're delicious. Still, the damage never seems all that noticeable, I guess because the plants tend to be so big. Thanks for commenting! --Jill
Faythe Payne from USA on April 04, 2013:
Good information....I will be putting to good use this year..Hollyhocks is one of my favorite flowers...voting up and sharing.