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Copyright 2001-2003. New Ornamentals Society. All Rights Reserved.
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Alcea rosea 'Nigra' in one of it's more maroon versions. Some seedlings are darker than this while others are redder still. Only the buds will be anything close to black.

Click image to enlarge.


Most hybrids today show the influence of both A. ficifolia (lobed leaves, yellow flowers) and A. rosea (round leaves, pink to red flowers). A. ficifolia has imparted a more perennial nature to hybrids. Pure A. rosea can be more biennial or in improved strains annuals flowering the first year. Alcea rugosa is more rare but may have influenced some hybrids.

There are a great many "private strains" listed and sold today. It has been fashionable to name one's own seed strain, usually claiming some old garden or traditional origin and more moderate, naturally looking traits (flowers in scale, pastel colors etc.) On the opposite extreme others favor the advanced hybrid with full doubleness, bold colors with blooms to 6 inches wide.

We have elected to include the distinctive and popular strains here. Yours additions for other worthy strains are welcome.

Althaea is the old generic name for this group.


Alcea 'Appleblossom'

fc: light pink with reddish petaloids
ft: semi-double

Alcea 'Arabian Nights'

fc: dark purple

Alcea 'Black Beauty'

fc: "deepest black"

Alcea 'Blackcurrant Swirl'

fc: purple mottled or swirled white
ft: double

Alcea 'Chatter's Double' ('Chatter's Strain', 'Chatter's Strain')

ht: 6-8 ft.
fc: various in mix including bright scarlet, yellow, maroon, white, pink, orange,
fc: salmon, apricot orange, creamy orange, lavender, purple, and maroon/cream.
ft: full double
bt: repeat blooming is commoning which is no true of all doubles.
eval: this was one of the first good double strains but the newer ones are
eval: superior in general. However this strain seems to have a wider range of
eval: colors so is still popular today. 'Powerpuff' is larger (a good thing?),
eval: cleaner and brighter in colors, and usually more floriferous.
ns: the name is sometimes spelled with one "t" as in Chater's. But we are
ns: British experts in using the two "t" variant.
Carroll Gardens (plants)

Alcea 'Chatter's Chamois'

fc: appleblossom pink

Alcea 'Chatter's Chestnut'

fc: unusual chestnut brown.

Alcea 'Chatter's Double Apricot'

ht: 5-6 ft.
fc: golden apricot orange
ft: full double
Thompson Morgan (seeds)

Alcea 'Chatter's Double Pink'

ht: 5-6 ft.
fc: medium pink
ft: full double

Alcea 'Chatter's Double White'

ht: 5-6 ft.
fc: near pure white
ft: full double

Alcea 'Country Garden'

fc: various with mix, usually light pink to red, yellow, and apricot. There is
fc: is often a darker center or color ring in the stock offered by Wayside as
fc: shown in their 2000 catalog page 90.
ft: petals slightly cut or fringed, single to semi-double in mix
fd: 5 in.
Wayside Gardens (plants)

Alcea 'Creme de Cassis' (12/02)

fc: purple with lavender or lighter purple margin
lt: semi-double but open, cup-shaped, showing two overlapping layers of petals. Petals
lt: are pleasantly undulate and lightly frilled. Throat is yellow to cream.
in, so, ph:
Burpee Seeds (online catalog Fall 2002), introduced 2003

Alcea 'East Coast'

ht: 6-8 ft.
fc: light pink, black, medium pink, light yellow, and white in mix
ft: single
or: salvaged from a garden at Aldeburgh England

Alcea 'Farmyard'

fc: various shades in mix
ft: single
ns: this name is used for one of the so-called "old-fashioned" strains
Carroll Gardens (plants)

Alcea ficifolia (A. rosea Ficifolia Group)

ht: 48-60 in., larger in its hybrids
ha: perennial in the true form
fc: medium yellow to white
ft: petals often cut or notched
ls: distinctly lobed, resembling Ficus carica (fig) in shape. Lobes are well
ls: rounded or obtuse.
ns: this species is known from Siberia and probably cultivated since the 16th
ns: century. It is naturally yellow to white flowered. Hybrids with pink, red,
ns: or orange shades are almost certainly hybrids to A. rosea even if sold as
ns: "Ficifolia Hybrids". It has been called the Siberian Hollyhock as well
ns: as Antwerp Hollyhock, the first denoting its alledged origin and the second
ns: a place of its early cultivation. Many strains under this name clearly show
ns: the influence of A. rosea in flower color, regardless of the leaf shape.

Alcea ficifolia 'Golden Eye'

ns: a listed name.

Alcea ficifolia 'Pioneer'


Alcea 'Icicle'

fc: white
ft: double

Alcea 'Imperator'

fc: cream to dark red in mix. The center of the petals may be a different color.
ft: full double with a wide collar of fringed and frilled petals
fd: 5-6 in. wide - almost out of scale by modern standards

Alcea 'Indian Spring'


Alcea 'Indian Summer'


Alcea 'Jet Black'

fc:dark reddish-purple to blackish-red
ft: double
ns: the true 'Nigra' is single and this is double.

Alcea 'Lemon Light'

ht: 6-8 ft.
ha: branching well
fc: lemon yellow
dr: rust resistant

Alcea 'Majorette'

ht: 30 in. - dwarf
ft: full double
fc: full range of bright colors.
fd: 3-4 in.

Alcea 'Newport Pink'

ht: 6 ft.
fc: pink
fd: 3.5 in.
ft: double

Alcea 'Nigrite' = A. rosea 'Nigra'?

ns: a listed name

Alcea 'Norma Avery'

ns: a listed name.

Alcea 'Peaches 'n'Dreams'

fc: creamy peach orange to golden orange usually with a lighter center
fc: and yellow tones at the petal bases. Older flowers are darker and
fc: more pink. Young flowers are quite yellow.
ft: very full, frilled double. The young buds are perfectly globose or rounded
ft: and open to resemble a carnation. The open flowers have been compared to
ft: modern double roses for their sophisticated color shading and form.
tm: name is trademarked
ch: 3 - reportedly cold hardy and perennial
or: Thompson and Morgan hybrid
in: Thompson and Morgan 1998 (cover photo)
Wayside Gardens (plants)
Thompson Morgan (seeds)

Alcea 'Pinafore'

ht: 36-40 in. - dwarf
ha: branches well with 5-8 flowering stalks per plant
fc: various shades including red, pink, carmine, yellow and white
ft: single to semi-double

Alcea 'Powderpuff' ('Powder Puff')

ht: 6-8 ft.
fc: various shades, usually pastels or clean bright colors, in mix. It yields
fc: some very good double yellows and very bright double reds. The pure white
fc: double is nice too.
ft: full double with a more fluffy appearance than some older doubles. Sometimes
ft: there is distinctly fuller center with a wider ring of outer petals - not
ft: really semi-double but showing at least two layers of petal density.
or: Mr. Simonet of Edmonton Canada hybrids using 'Chatter's Double' and others.
eval: larger more clean and bright flowers than 'Chatter's Double' (but not always)
eval: and more densely flowered. It could be too much for some people. Tastes
eval: vary on whether more and bigger flowers is a good thing.
Wayside Gardens (plants)
Thompson Morgan (seeds)

Alcea 'Queeny Purple'

click image
AAS Trials, JC Raulston Arboretum. July 2004. This is a far better showing than in last year's bed where the foliage was utterly destroyed by creatures seen and unseen.

ht: 30-40 in.
ha: dwarf, pyramidal
fc: rich rose-purple
ft: semi-double
aw: AAS 2003
eval: This breakthrough is a true dwarf but pests and diseases may still plaque the foliage to a very
eval: bad extent. If one is prepared to specialize in the genus, spraying on schedule, we may recommend it
eval: for you alone. It is more of a spectacle than a truly beautiful plant.

Alcea rosea 'Nigra'

ht: 60 in.
fc: dark blackish-maroon with a darker center
ft: single - some other "black" strains are double
ns: the single black hollyhock was known in gardens according to Gerard as early
ns: as the 16th century. This strain was also grown by Thomas Jefferson at
ns: Monticello.
Carroll Gardens (plants)
Thompson Morgan (seeds)

Alcea rosea 'Nigra Plena'

fc: dark blackish-maroon
ft: double - true 'Nigra' is single
Cotswold Garden Flowers

Alcea rosea 'Pleniflora'

fc: various
ft: double

Alcea 'Rosie Pinks'

fc: light to dark pink, red, and near white in mix
dr: said to be disease free, presumably referring to rust (?)
or: brought to the UK from Middle East, possibly during the crusades from Turkey.

Alcea rugosa

ht: 72 in.
st: often purple mottled
fc: medium to light yellow, appearing almost translucent when backlit.
ft: single
fd: 4 in.
ls: 5-7 lobed similar to A. ficifolia but surface much more rough and rugose.
ls: young leaves are very deeply lobed and may remind one of some Hibiscus.
lc: grey-green
dr: appears to be rust resistant.
ch: 3
geo: Russia
Plant Delights
Carroll Gardens (plants)

Alcea 'Sawyers'

ns: listed name for improved strain.

Alcea 'Scarlet Eye'

fc: red eyes.

Alcea 'Silk Ruffles'

ft: double

Alcea 'Simplex Single'

ht: 2m
fc:various in the strain
ft: single
ls: lobed of the ficifolia type, often rough with texture.
ns: it is often listed as A. ficifolia but the flower colors suggest it has the
ns: influence of A. rosea.

Alcea 'Summer Carnival'

ht: 5-6 ft.
fc: various bright shades in mix. Perhaps a wider color range than some doubles.
ft: double. It is notable for carrying flowers all the way up and down the stems.
fd: 4 in.
aw: AAS Bronze
Thompson Morgan (seeds)

Alcea 'Triumph'

fc: mostly pastel shades in mix
ft: double similar to 'Chatter's Double'

Alcea 'Victoria Heart'


Alcea 'The Watchman' ('Watchman')

ht: 2-3m
fc: dark blackish maroon
fq: floriferous, known to show up to 50 flowers per plant
ns: it could be regarded as an improved 'Nigra' type.

Alcea 'Wayside's Old Barnyard'

ht: 4-6 ft.
fc: pink, red, yellow, maroon, and pastel shades in mix
ft: said to be single but Wayside's own photo (2000 catalog p. 9) shows semi-
ft: doubleness as well.
prop: reseeds well
or: Wayside Gardens from an old barnyard in VT USA
ns: it is the same "rescued old strain" idea of the 'Farmyard' strain.
Wayside Gardens (plants)