Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Hollyhocks, the Official Flower of Harrodsburg

Personal photo

Thinking about what new items to plant in your garden this year? Why not pick Harrodsburg's official flower, the hollyhock? Selected as the official flower in 1931, hollyhocks used to be planted all over Harrodsburg and Mercer County as a sense of pride.

The Advocate-Messenger, November 19, 1931

With the 250th anniversary of Harrodsburg fast approaching (2024), you still have plenty of time to plant hollyhocks, even if you just plant seeds.

Photo from Michigan Bulb
Hollyhocks are biennials, meaning they complete their lifecycle over 2 years. If you plant hollyhock seeds this year, you will be rewarded with beautiful green foliage this summer and fall, but don't expect flowers until next summer. The hollyhocks will reseed and continue to reproduce, provided you plant seeds for two years straight in order to keep the cycle growing.

Double-flower Hollyhock from Walmart
Other than staking and cutting the stalks back after flowering, hollyhocks really don’t require much maintenance, but they do need to be protected from insects and fungal diseases such as rust. Hollyhocks support the lifecycle of painted lady butterflies as a host plant for their caterpillars and also attract other pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds.

The Lexington Leader, June 30, 1938

Mary Alexander designed and produced a quilted wall hanging for the Mercer County Public Library in 2011 with Harrodsburg's Official Flower. It currently hangs on the wall behind the main circulation desk.

Photo by Mary Alexander

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