Stock or Matthiola
Native to Greece
Showy and fragrant, the Stock is an excellent choice for cut-flower arrangements. The Stock has been known to serve as a symbol of happiness and contentment across many cultures. It is native to southwestern Greece and the Mediterranean. Typical colors for the Stock are pink, red, lilac and white. The plant is also referred to as Matthiola. Some Stock is grown as an annual while others are propagated as a biennial. The difference is generally the time of year the Stock is planted. The Stock can have a single or double flower that measures around one inch in diameter and grow along the spiky stems. The double flowers give the blooms a softer and fuller look. The scent is spicy and has been described as something like cloves, which is similar to the carnation.
The plants grow from one to three feet in height, lending itself to various placements in the garden, which adds depth and variety. The Stock is a member of the Brassica family, which includes cabbage and kale. It is said that Stock was brought to America by Thomas Jefferson who was an avid gardener. Cut flowers will last from five to eight days. Be sure to cut the flowers when the buds are about halfway open and cut the stems on the diagonal.
Growing Recommendations - Stock or Matthiola
The Stock plant can be grown easily from seed and will happily re-seed themselves in the garden. Start plants eight weeks before the last frost by placing the seeds on top of any starting mixture used. Do not plant deeply as the seeds need light to germinate. Germination takes about seven to twenty-one days. Once established, plants are able to withstand a light frost, but when freezing temperatures are expected, the young plants will need to be protected. Full to partial sun is required in order for these plants to thrive. Since the plants grow to nearly two feet in height, they make wonderful border plants and do well next to bulb plants. The Stock prefers somewhat cooler temperatures overall. Pinching back the seedlings will encourage a fuller growth with increased flower production. Feeding them once a month will also improve the quality of these annuals. Be sure to cut off the dead flowers when they turn brown in order to provide room for new flowers to bloom.