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Alcea rosea nigra Alcea rosea var. nigra
Black Hollyhock

This Venus-ruled plant is associated with Ceres, Demeter, and the festival of the first fruits.  The large, round seed pods make a good symbol for a well stuffed purse and for fertility; indeed, in the language of flowers, hollyhock stands for fertility and wealth. The flower essence of black hollyhock is useful for coming to grips with the void and for introspection. To make a quickie poppet, strip the green sepals off a hollyhock bud and then stick the stem of an open flower into the folds of the bud's petals. Hollyhock's name means "holy mallow." A stalk of hollyhock is sometimes incorporated into celebrations of Lammas as a way of ensuring the fertility of fields.

This perennial comes originally from the Mediterranean and was introduced into Europe in the 1500s, so it was grown in medieval gardens. The flowers, leaves, and roots are edible and quite juicy. The flowers can be dried and used for coloring; they can be added to pot pourri for decoration, to white wine for coloring, or steeped and drunk as a soothing, purple tea. They can also be used to dye mordanted wool in colors of pink (alum), blue (alum/tin), taupe (iron), light green (blue vitriol). Black hollyhock looks great against a wall.  Hollyhocks are good cut flowers; the buds will open.  All hollyhocks are great for the cottage garden, but the black hollyhock adds a dark tint that is otherwise missing. Nice coupled with other black flowers. Good deer-proof plant; they don't like the fuzzy leaves. Top

How to grow hollyhock: Cover with a layer of soil as thick as the seed's diameter.  Daytime temperatures of 68F/20C are best for germination.  Keep moist but not soppy.  It should germinate in 1-2 weeks.  You can also plant directly outside two weeks before the last frost date.  It likes a sheltered (not too much wind), sunny site and rich soil. It does not like extreme heat, as in south Florida.  If grown there, try planting it on the north side of the house and not in full sun. It usually spends the first year making a rosette of leaves and forming a sturdy root, then in the second year a large spike will shoot up 5-8 feet and will start blooming, but sometimes you will get lucky and it will bloom late in the first year.  If you pinch it back as it is growing, it will get more branches and thus more flowers.  Or you can just let it go to its full, regal height.  Single stalks are very impressive.  Mulch at least four inches deep to protect in winter, although if you get heavy snow cover all winter, you don't need to.  They like to reseed themselves.   General growing info   Top

Alcea rosea var. nigra
Black Hollyhock
20 seeds $3.50

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magick:

Honoring Ceres & Demeter
Money Spells
Fertility Magick
Celebrating Lammas
Venus Herb

2009, 2015 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction of any part without permission.