I bought a hollyhock plant and woke up this morning to water it and found that it had been either chewed or stepped on and was broken. Can it be saved? The roots are still in the ground: will another plant emerge from the root that remained in the ground? I was so brokenhearted to see this.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Kari in Pennsylvania: It is disappointing when we look forward to watching our perennials bloom only to find them chewed off or damaged before their time to flower arrives. Unfortunately, if the stems are completely broken there is no way for the plant to transfer moisture and nutrients needed for growth. Were all of the stems broken? If so go ahead and get your pruners out; cut back the foliage right below where it was damaged. The roots were not affected so the plant will attempt to put on new growth in an effort to survive. Make sure the roots are not allowed to dry out and you can feed with a well-balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10. This will help to promote new growth. The good news is that we still have plenty of warm weather left before winter arrives and this means your hollyhock can produce new growth and potentially flower this season, but more importantly store up energy for next year’s flowers. The plant is stressed so make sure the soil stays consistently moist and that it is planted in full sun. You might consider protecting it if you think a critter maybe chewed on it. Visit your local garden center to see what they carry in terms of deterrents and physical barriers.