How to grow stocks?

Stock Plant Care: How To Grow Stock Flowers

If you’re looking for an interesting garden project that produces fragrant spring flowers, you might want to try growing stock plants. The stock plant referred to here is not the plant that you nurture in the greenhouse as a source of cuttings, which may be any type of plant. Stock flower info indicates there is a type of plant that’s actually named stock flower (commonly called Gillyflower) and botanically called Matthiola incana.

Highly fragrant and attractive, you might wonder what is plant called stock? This may also lead to the question of when and how to grow stock flowers. Several varieties exist, with both single and double blooms. When growing stock plants, expect flowers to start blooming in spring and last through late summer, depending on your USDA hardiness zone. These fragrant blooms may take a break during the hottest days of summer.

How to Grow Stock Flowers

Stock flower info says the plant is an annual, grown from seed to fill those bare spots among other blooms in the spring to a summer garden. Other info says stock flowers can be biennial. In areas without freezing winters, stock flower info says it may even perform as a perennial.

Stock flowers bloom from spring to summer, offering continuous blooms in the sunny garden when given the right stock plant care. Caring for stock plants includes growing them in well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist and deadhead spent blooms. Grow this plant in a protected area in colder areas and mulch to protect roots in winter.

Chilling Stock for Flowers

Growing stock is not a complicated project, but it does require a period of cold. The duration of cold needed as a part of stock plant care is two weeks for early blooming types and 3 weeks or more for late varieties. Temperatures should remain at 50 to 55 F. (10-13 C.) during this timeframe. Colder temperatures may damage the roots. If you neglect this aspect of caring for stock plants, blooms will be sparse or possibly nonexistent.

You may wish to purchase seedlings that have already had cold treatment if you live in an area without cooler winters. Cold treatment can be accomplished by growing stock in tunnels of a greenhouse at the right time of year. Or the frugal gardener can plant seeds in winter and hope your cold spell lasts long enough. In this type of climate, stock flower info says the plant begins to bloom in late spring. In climates with winter freeze, expect blooms of growing stock plants to appear from late spring to late summer.

How to Care for Stock Flowers

Stock, also known as Matthiola, is a hardy cool-season annual native to the Mediterranean and a favorite in old-fashioned cottage gardens. The tightly clustered flowers come in shades of white, pink, red, cream, peach, yellow, lilac or purple, and may be single or double. Because of their sweet and spicy fragrance, spikes of stock blossoms are often sold as a cut flower. The most commonly planted forms are common stock (Matthiola incana), which ranges from 8 to 30 inches tall, and evening-scented stock (Matthiola longipetala bicornus), which is 12 to 14 inches tall.

Starting Stock From Seed

Start seeds indoors in a sunny spot six to eight weeks before the last frost. Plant seeds in a well-draining potting mix, as stock is susceptible to rot, or damping-off. Water from below just enough to keep the potting mix moist. The best temperature for germination is 55 to 65 degrees.

Press the seeds lightly on the planting mix, but don’t bury them, as they need light to germinate.

Read the seed packet to learn how to distinguish between seedlings of single and double flowers for your variety (for example, double “Ten Week” stock seedlings are a darker green than the singles). Pinch out the singles, as doubles offer more interest and more perfume, according to Larry Hodgson in “Annuals for Every Purpose.”

Caring For Stock In The Garden

Locate a spot in full sun to partial shade. Using a trowel or spade, prepare the garden soil by amending it with organic matter such as shredded leaves or a light compost. Stock prefers a light, fertile soil with good drainage. Space seedlings or nursery plants 10 to 15 inches apart, and plant at the same level they were growing in their pots. Water well after planting. Keep the soil moist throughout the growing season, but do not overwater, as stock is prone to root rot.

Plant seedlings or nursery-grown plants outside in the early spring in cold weather climates. Stock blooms best in cool weather, so plant early to get maximum enjoyment from the flowers before warm weather arrives.

Plant in the early fall in climates with a milder winter, for bloom in winter or early spring. Stock will withstand moderate frost, but will not set bloom if temperatures too cold at night.

Fertilize monthly with an all-purpose fertilizer intended for annual flowers. Using pruning shears, deadhead stock when flower spikes are done blooming. This needs to be done only to keep the plants looking neat, as the double-flowered stocks do not produce seed.

Caring For Stock As A Cut Flower

Purchase stock when half to two-thirds of the flowers on the stalk are open. Look for straight, sturdy stems, and avoid stems on which the lower flowers are decaying.

Remove any foliage that will be below the water line of the vase or container. For longest flower life, cut the stem under water and use a floral preservative.

Change the water of your stock bouquet daily because stock is susceptible to mildew, recommends.


Stock Flower

Stock flowers are wonderful as a bulb cover, path or bed edging, or in containers!

Stock Flower (Malcolmia maritima) is a low-branching annual herb. Stock Flower is also referred to as Virginia Stock flower. Stock flowers come in a profusion of fragrant loose racemes. Stock flowers are white and pink, or red, or lilac in color. The Stock Flower is a native of southwestern Greece and southern Albania, i.e., the mediterranean region.

Kingdom Plantae Phylum Magnoliophyta Class Magnoliopsida Order Capparales Family Brassicaceae Genus Malcolmia Species Malcolmia maritima

The Stock Flower’s spikes are cross-shaped 4-petaled flowers. The Stock Flowers bloom from spring to fall. The Stock Flower spikes are 3/4 inch in width. The Stock flower is perfect for scattering into paving crevices, nooks and crannies, in rock walls, for the front of the flower border, or to provide cover for the bulb foliage once the bulb blooms are gone.

Facts About Stock Flower

  • The Stock Flower plant has oval, toothed or entire, medium green leaves.
  • The Stock Flower plant grows to a height of 8-15 feet in full sun.
  • The Stock flowers are white, yellow, pinks, lilac, and magenta.
  • The name gillyflower is also used for the Virginia Stock.
  • The flower fragrance is the characteristic feature of the Virginian stock.

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Growing Stock Flowers

  • Stock are the easiest grown plants.
  • A site selected should be a well-drained one.
  • Stock flowers need full sun.
  • Stock seeds should be sown in large drifts.
  • Stock seeds should be sown in succession so as to have the flowers always blooming with a vivid flower display.
  • The seeds sown should be 3 inches apart.
  • The seeds germinate in 1-2 weeks.

Virginia Stock Plant Care

  • Annuals and perennials may be fertilized using: 1.water-soluble, quick release fertilizers; 2. temperature controlled slow-release fertilizers; or 3. organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion.
  • Water soluble fertilizers are generally used every two weeks during the growing season.
  • Controlled, slow-release fertilizers are employed into the soil ususally only once during the growing season.
  • For organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion, we should follow label directions as they may vary per product.

Annual Care Guide


Whether you grow annuals from seed or as started transplants, getting them planted right will ensure you have a beautiful display of flowers or foliage.

Starting annuals from seed is a great way to save money, especially if you’re growing a large number of plants. You can sow many varieties, including sunflowers, cosmos, marigolds, bachelor’s buttons, annual poppies, balsam, morning glories, castor beans, and larkspur directly in loose soil in the garden. Or get a head start on the season by sowing them indoors.

Learn more about growing plants from seed!

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Growing transplants in the garden is necessary if you want special varieties that can’t be grown from seed or if you start seeds indoors. To plant them, dig a hole at least twice as wide as the container the plant is growing in, but no deeper. Gently loosen and spread apart the roots (especially if the plant is rootbound) before placing the plant in the hole. Then cover the roots with soil and water well.

Test Garden Tip: You can group annuals into two basic categories — cool season and warm season. Cool-season annuals do best in temperatures under 70-75F, and are best for spring or fall displays (or winter, in the Deep South). Popular cool-season annuals include pansy, viola, nemesia, diascia, osteospermum, and flowering kale. Plant cool-season annuals before your average last frost date.

Warm-season annuals, on the other hand, do best in warm conditions and need to be planted after your last frost date and once the soil has warmed. These varieties do best in summer. Examples include ageratum, angelonia, impatiens, begonia, morning glory, petunia, dusty miller, geranium, nasturtium, and moss rose.

More Planting Tips

Water your annuals well after you plant them — they’re most susceptible to drying out the first few weeks after you put them in the ground.

Lay a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch over the soil around your new plants. This helps the soil hold moisture and prevents weeds from growing.

Once you’ve mastered growing annuals, give perennials a try with our complete growing guide.

Deadheading and pinching are two easy tasks that will keep your annuals looking their best.


Keep your annuals nice and compact by pinching off the top couple of inches of new growth from time to time. By removing the main growing point, you encourage the plant to branch out, becoming bushier instead of tall and lanky.


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Because each annual has its own water needs, there’s no one-size fits all rule to supplying the plants with the moisture they need.

The most drought-tolerant varieties, including lantana, California poppy, gazania, nasturtium, ptilotus, and moss rose may not need any supplemental water after they get established in your garden. Others don’t hold up well to drought and require consistently moist soil.

Regardless of how often you water, keep your plants healthier by using a soaker hose. This permeable hose slowly seeps water into the ground, directly at the root zone. It keeps plant foliage dry, which helps your plants resist disease (since many diseases love wet leaves).


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Deadheading sounds severe, but it’s quite simple: It’s cutting the faded flowers off your plants. It makes your plants look better and it prevents them from setting seed so you don’t have a mess of bachelor’s buttons, California poppy, cosmos, calendula, cleome, datura, and verbena seedlings popping up in your garden.

Because deadheading stops them from making seed, many annuals keep right on blooming, so you can enjoy more of your favorite flowers.

Learn more about deadheading.

If your garden is blessed with rich soil or you amend it with compost or other forms of organic matter regularly, you probably won’t need to feed your plants. But if you’re cursed with poor soil or growing plants in pots, fertilizing can be helpful.

Learn more about fertilizing!

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In most cases, all you need is a general-purpose garden fertilizer. Be sure to follow the directions on the packaging.

You might be tempted to use more fertilizer than is recommended, but you can have too much of a good thing. Overfertilization may make your plants flower less, suffer root injury, or even kill your annuals.

Because plants in pots can’t reach farther into the soil to find more nutrients, they depend on you to feed them. One easy solution is to use a slow-release plant food. You just need to apply it once or twice a season and it feeds your plants for you.

Planting and Care of Annual Flowers

Although there are some annuals that produce foliage only, for most gardeners the word “annual” is synonymous with colorful garden flowers that bloom from early spring right up through the first fall frost.

For the record, an annual is defined as a plant whose life cycle is complete in a year’s time, sometimes slightly less. Most annuals are planted in the garden from seed or transplants in spring, flower throughout the warm months, then die in the fall. Sure, they are temporary, but what a temporary show they put on!

The diversity within the group of plants known as annuals is staggering, with everything from 10-foot-tall sunflowers to the ground-hugging sweet alyssum to the rampant, vining morning glory. From landscape displays to containers and hanging baskets, there is truly an annual for every occasion and situation. And when it comes to cut flowers, it’s hard to beat annuals for their sheer production and ease of growing.

Choosing Plants

Be sure to match the needs of a particular annual with the right location in your garden. Although there are notable exceptions, in the main, annuals love a full sun location. You may be able to get a sun-loving annual to put on an adequate show with only four hours of direct sun a day, but you’re doomed to disappointment if you plant a sun-lover in the shade, or a shade-lover in the sun.


Although some annuals are remarkably tolerant of a wide variety of soils, you’ll always get better results if you plant them in a well-drained, loose, loamy soil. If your soil is heavy (or exceptionally sandy), before planting add two or three inches of organic soil amendment (such as compost, ground bark, or peat moss) and cultivate the soil to a depth of six inches or more, incorporating the organic amendment as you turn the soil.


Gently remove each plant from its growing container, keeping its rootball intact. Plant the transplants at the same depth as they were in their nursery containers, pressing the soil gently around them with the palms of your hands. If possible, plant transplants on a cloudy day, or in the early evening, to keep wilting to a minimum. And always give newly planted annuals a good drink of water to settle the soil and refresh their spirits.


Although a few annuals are remarkably drought-tolerant, you’ll get the most from them if you provide water on a consistent basis. The soil can be allowed to dry out slightly between waterings, but it should never be allowed to dry out completely. If you are growing your annuals in containers, be sure the containers have drainage holes. To keep diseases to a minimum, try to water the soil without wetting the foliage.


Because so much is expected of annuals over a short period of time, it’s important that they have adequate nutrients. A rich, loamy, compost-enhanced soil will get them off to a good start. Then, plan to apply a complete fertilizer once a month, following the instructions on the label.


To keep them blooming all season long, many annuals require regular deadheading. Deadheading simply means removing (either with shears or by pinching) all spent flowers. Once a flower head has reached the point where its seeds are mature, the plant will usually stop producing flowers. If you want plenty of flowers, be vigilant about removing the dead and dying blossoms from the plant.

Managing Pests

If you’re out in your garden of annuals on a daily basis, it’s easy to keep a sharp eye out for problems, including insects and diseases. Bear in mind that the most valuable phrase regarding healthy plants is “at the first sign of attack.” If you apply a control in the earliest stages of infestation, you may be able to control the pest with simple, non-toxic methods such as hand-picking beetles or hosing off aphids. However, once a pest or disease has really taken hold, stronger methods and controls will be needed. So get out there in your garden every day, inspecting and enjoying your plants, and don’t let any pest rob you of a single flower!

by Matt Gibson

Stock (also called Matthiola incana, Gillyflower, perfume plant) is one of the most fragrant flowers you can grow. Its scent is described as both sweet and spicy, not to mention incredibly pleasant. Many gardeners who have experience growing stock flower suggest making the most of stock by positioning them to mature at nose height, so that the blossoms are easier to smell while they’re in bloom. Stock flowers are quite hardy and sturdy, making them a great choice for containers or for planting directly into your garden beds. Stock is a cool weather flower that blooms from early spring into summer. The summer heat stops stock from blooming, as it needs temperatures of 60 degrees Fahrenheit or lower in order to produce blossoms.

Stock is planted as an annual, biennial, or perennial, depending on the region where they will be grown. In colder climate areas, stock flowers are planted as annuals, as they will not survive more than the first few frosts. In warmer climates, stock is considered a perennial, as the hardy plants can survive for several years, coming back with sturdier, woodier stems each year, until the summer heat eventually takes its toll. Stock can be considered a biennial because it has a tendency to bloom and set seed in its second year.

The flowers range in color from basic shades of white, pink, lavender, and rose as well as coming in deeper jewel tones of red, purple, and blue. There are dwarf varieties that only grow to be eight to twelve inches tall and larger varieties that can grow two to three feet.

M. longipetala, a variety of stock that only opens its blooms at night, is visually underwhelming, compared to other stock flowers. But what it lacks in pretty plumage, it makes up for in its unique perfume. In the evening hours, when this stock hybrid opens its petals, you’ll see just why it’s so popular: It emits a heady, powerful fragrance that gardeners love. Even though this cultivar’s blooms may rarely be seen because of its nocturnal blooming hours, and even though the flowers themselves have been described as wispy or lackluster, that scent alone is enough to earn the longipetala stock cultivar a place in many flower gardens around the world.

Varieties of Stock Flower

The stock flower has been bred and cultivated to create more size and color varieties. There are now more than 60 known cultivars of stock flower to choose from. Here are a few standouts that we think you will enjoy.

‘Starlight Sensation’ Stock:
The starlight sensation hybrid grows no more than 18 inches tall, and it comes in a wide array of colors. When growing this cultivar from seed, you never know exactly what shade you’re going to get. Though you may have no idea what color you’re going to get, you can expect to see plenty of large, fragrant, single blooms all throughout the spring and the first few weeks of summer.

‘White Goddess’ Stock:
The white goddess cultivar is one of the most visually elegant stock flowers gardeners can find. Producing large, sweet-smelling double blooms on single stems, this stock hybrid comes in a eye-grabbing pure white tint with a yellowish-green center. The white goddess variety has it all—with its fragrance, looks, and double blooms, it’s no wonder that this hybrid is a hit in many garden beds.

‘Legacy’ Stock:
The legacy series of stock flowers grow just two feet tall and are available in a host of different colors, all producing gorgeous double flowers and emitting the signature spicy yet sweet smell that has made the stock flower a fixture in modern gardens. This series of hybrids are a perfect example of why stock flowers have risen in popularity.

‘Cinderella’ Stock:
The Cinderella hybrid is a dwarf version of the traditional stock flower, growing no more than 10 inches in height. Available in all the major colors that traditional stock flowers are offered in, the Cinderella cultivar is unique because, in such a small package, it produces nothing but double blooms. Also, breeding this variety to be small didn’t take anything away from the size of the scent in the bouquet you can create with them. Cinderellas are a great choice to position in nose-high containers or as border flowers for larger perennial garden beds.

Growing Conditions for Stock Flower

Stock flowers prefer full sunlight exposure, but they will tolerate partial shade in the right climates. Stock thrives in rich, loose soil that drains well. These flowers need to be fed once right after planting, and then once per month, using a general purpose fertilizer for flowering plants.

How to Plant Stock Flower

Stock flowers can be planted from seedlings or seed, though planting them from seedlings has a higher success rate. If you choose to go with seedlings, dig out holes large enough to place the seedlings in, and plant them just two inches below the soil, where the crown of the plant is just beneath soil level. Give at least 15 centimeters of space between the plants on all sides.

If you’re planting from seed, sow indoors early in the season. Cover very lightly with less than a half inch of fine garden soil or potting mix. Water the young plants thoroughly and often until stems begin to sprout up, then water only twice per week. Transplant stock into the garden after the last frost date has passed, spacing each plant out about seven to 12 inches apart. Plant stock in full sun except for in very hot climates, where the flowers would enjoy a bit of afternoon shade. If you are worried about soil quality, layer in plenty of well-rotted organic matter.

Care for Stock Flower

Stock flowers need very little care once established. Water is needed during dry periods or drought, but usually, rainwater will suffice. Fertilize once per month with a general purpose fertilizer for flowering plants. Deadhead the flower heads during the blooming season to encourage new growth and an elongated blooming period.

Garden Pests and Diseases of Stock Flower

There are no major issues with pests or diseases with stock flower. However, if any problems do arise, they should be easily treated with a insecticide, fungicide or repellents as needed.

Companion Planting with Stock Flower

For the perfect cottage flower garden, pair stock flowers with heliotrope and phlox. These three will also partner perfectly as cut flowers for indoor arrangements. Another great pairing for stock flowers is nemesia. These two flowers will make a lovely pair throughout the spring, and in the summer, when the stock blooms stop popping, nemesia will continue to flourish and carry the load in their absence. For a duo that will will bloom all spring long and then fade together, try stocks with pansies. When they have both gone dormant, tear them up and replant with warm season annuals, such as marigolds or petunias. A great combination for fragrance is a mixture of stock and sweet pea flowers. Sweet peas can be grown as annuals or perennials, bearing big ruffled blooms in tons of different colors. Most types of sweet pea flowers have a strong bouquet as well, and pairing them with stocks could give you the sweetest smelling garden in your neighborhood.

Stock Flower for Indoor Bouquets

Stock flower is a natural for indoor arrangements. The flower retains its shape and color long after it has been separated from the plant base and root system. Not only do stock flowers look excellent in a vase, the cut blooms continue to relinquish an amazing fragrance to enjoy indoors.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your cut flower arrangements: Remove leaves from the bottom of the stems. Any part of the stem that’s going to be hidden in the vase and submerged underwater should be removed. This way, the plant is not spending precious energy on trying to keep hidden leaves looking healthy and instead will focus on the blooms up top that you want to stick around as long as possible. Replace the water every day to retain freshness. When changing the water, snip the bottom of the stems each day. Use a fertilizer specifically engineered for cut flowers, and just add it to the water. Just because the flowers have been separated from their root systems doesn’t mean that they don’t require food to stay healthy. The better you take care of your arrangements after you cut them, the longer they will last to fill your home with beauty and joy.

Watch this video for a quick tutorial on how to grow stock at home:

Watch this video to learn about stock culture, get some growing tips and learn how many growers are using their stock flowers to make perfume:

This video will teach you how to propagate stock plants from seed:

Want to Learn More About Stock Flower?

Better Homes & Gardens covers Stock Flower
GardenersHQ covers How to Grow Matthiola Plants
The Gardener’s Network covers How to Grow Stock Plants
Gardener’s Path covers Stock: A Cottage Garden Staple
Gardening Direct covers How to Grow Stocks
Gardening Know How covers Growing Stock Flowers


Stock, or Matthiola incana, is a member of the Brassicaceae family of plants that includes cabbages. Originating in the wild in England, it is a favorite of cottage gardeners, prized for its dense clusters of fragrant blossoms.

Its Latin name is said to commemorate a 16th-century herbalist, Peter Matthioli (or perhaps Mattioli), personal physician to King Ferdinand I of Austria. Aa 1905 article titled “Memorial Plant Names,” in a Victorian-era British periodical called The Leisure Hour, refers to this likely origin.

A Multifaceted Plant

Also called gillyflower, tenweeks, or hoary, Brompton, or vintage stock, today’s colorful varieties are cultivars of the original M. incana wildflower.

This plant is known for its elongated racemes, or clusters, of single or double fragrant blossoms that rise on sturdy stems from lush grayish-green foliage.

There are other Matthiola varieties, including the night-scented M. longipetala. Visually, this variety pales in comparison, with its sparse, narrow petaled blossoms. However, it makes up for its shortcomings by emitting a heady scent in the evening.

M. incana is referred to as a half-hardy annual, biennial, and perennial.

How can this be?

This is a cool weather plant that blooms from early spring into summer. It needs temperatures below 60°F to set buds, otherwise you don’t get blossoms.

In cool regions, it grows as an annual that may withstand a frost or two, hence the term “half-hardy.” Sow seeds in early spring in these locations.

In warmer areas, M. incana is a perennial that may live for a few years, coming back with woodier stems each spring. Here, it blooms until summer heat becomes oppressive. It’s best to plant in the early fall.

The biennial characteristic refers to its tendency to bloom and set seed in the second year, in settings where it grows as a perennial.

Whatever its behavior, M. incana is the perfect choice for beds, borders, and container gardening. Sowed en masse, its soft blossoms blur like those in a watercolor painting, for a charming cottage feel.

There are numerous cultivars of the original M. incana, with heights ranging from an 8-inch dwarf variety, to taller Column and Imperial hybrids that exceed two feet.

To experiment with growing stock in various plant hardiness zones, consider starting seeds indoors, using cold frames or greenhouses, and providing shade from intense afternoon heat.

Matthiola incana Plant Facts

  • Average moisture, well-drained soil
  • Cool weather to set buds
  • Blooms early spring to summer
  • Fragrant
  • Full sun to part shade
  • Grow from seed or plants
  • Introduced
  • Numerous cultivars
  • One to three feet in height
  • Perennial in zones 7 to 10
  • Annual in colder regions
  • Colors include purple, pink, red, white, and yellow

Where to Buy

True Leaf Market offers a Stock Midget Mix. Each package contains 1000 seeds for flowers that range in color from purple to white.

Midget Mix Stock

This is a dwarf variety that reaches 8 to 12 inches in height. Expect approximately 60 percent of the seed to produce double-petaled blossoms.

Fragrant and Romantic

When it’s time to plan your next garden, be sure to include stock for cutting and bringing indoors.

I love to slip out early in the morning, when the dew still glistens, to collect an armful for a breakfast table centerpiece. Heliotrope and phlox are two of my other cottage garden favorites.

Did you know that you can keep vase arrangements fresh longer with two easy tips?

1. Remove leaves from the bottom portion of stems that will be under water.

2. Refresh vases daily by snipping the bottoms of all stems and changing the water.

You’re going to love having a ready supply of lush-blossomed cutting flowers!

Does stock grow well where you live? Tell us about your favorite varieties in the comments section below.


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Product photo via True Leaf Market. Uncredited photos: .

About Nan Schiller

Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!

Matthiola incana

  • Attributes: Genus: Matthiola Species: incana Family: Brassicaceae Life Cycle: Annual Perennial Recommended Propagation Strategy: Seed Country Or Region Of Origin: Spain to Greece
  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Annual Perennial Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Habit/Form: Mounding Growth Rate: Rapid Maintenance: Medium
  • Cultural Conditions: Light: Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day) Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours) Soil Texture: Clay High Organic Matter Sand Soil Drainage: Good Drainage Occasionally Wet Available Space To Plant: Less than 12 inches 12 inches-3 feet Usda Plant Hardiness Zone: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
  • Flowers: Flower Color: Cream/Tan Pink Purple/Lavender White Flower Inflorescence: Raceme Flower Value To Gardener: Fragrant Flower Description: Flowers are singles or doubles and appear as terminal racemes and come in many colors, cream, white, lavender purple, and pink.
  • Leaves: Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Leaf Color: Gray/Silver Green Leaf Feel: Velvety Leaf Type: Simple Leaf Arrangement: Whorled Leaf Shape: Lanceolate Oblong Leaf Margin: Entire Sinuate Hairs Present: Yes Leaf Length: 3-6 inches Leaf Description: Hairy, gray-green leaves (to 4” long).

  • Stem: Stem Is Aromatic: No
  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Container Patio Small Space Landscape Theme: Cottage Garden Design Feature: Border Resistance To Challenges: Deer

Expect sturdy, well-branched plants that produce an abundance of early bright, fragrant flowers. Excellent for cutting. Stocks prefers cool growing conditions. In cold winter areas plant in earliest spring. Where winters are mild set out plants in early fall. Bloom begins in winter or early spring. Annual flowers that are sometimes listed as Gillyflowers. Follow the how to grow stocks instructions and grow some wonderful cut flowers in summer.

Matthiola longipetala (syn. M. bicornis, also Cheiranthus longipetalus)
Family: Brassicaceae


Season & Zone
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Zone: 2-10

Sow indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost, or direct sow outdoors after last frost. Seeds take 3-20 days to germinate at an ideal soil temperature of 12-18°C (55-65°F).

Stocks are very susceptible to damping off. Sow on the surface of vermiculite under bright light, with some ventilation nearby. Water only from below. Pot on into sterilized potting soil once plants are large enough to handle, and space them in the garden at 15-23cm (6-9″) apart.

Moist, well-drained, fertile soil is best, with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. Pinch out side shoots for taller plants. Crowding plants encourages earlier blooming. Water regularly and feed lightly every month.

Annual Stock Flower

Stock is appreciated for its cool, distinctive colors and exceptional fragrance in cool season gardens. In mild winter regions, it’s grown as a winter/early-spring annual for bloom before the weather gets torrid. In maritime or cool mountain climates, it makes a good flower for late spring or summer flowering. A biennial treated as an annual, it’s a native of the Mediterranean coast and a member of the mustard family.

Description of stock: Most stock varieties have become well-bred doubles, an upgrade from their wild, single nature. Modern varieties vary in height from 12 to 30 inches, but they’re all rather stiff columns surrounded by flowers. The flowers are pink, white, red, rose, purple, and lavender in color.


Growing stock: Stock is at its best in the cool, humid weather of foggy, coastal areas, even though some varieties are more heat-tolerant for a longer flowering season elsewhere. Stock will tolerate light frost and is useful for winter bloom in mild climates. Elsewhere, plant as early in the spring as ground can be worked. Moist, well-drained soil high in organic matter is preferred. Stock should be planted in full sun. Space them 8 to 15 inches apart, depending on the size of the variety.

Propagating stock: Start new plants from seeds. For winter use in mild climates, sow stock in the fall. In other places, sow seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks prior to when ground can be worked outdoors. Seeds germinate in 7 to 10 days at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t cover the seeds; they need light to germinate. A percentage of seedlings are singles. Doubles are usually the most vigorous seedlings and are lighter in color than the singles.

Uses for stock: Stock is relatively precise in appearance, best suited to formal beds where it can be lined up like soldiers. Plant them where the fragrance reaches passersby — near walks, by doorsteps, and close to heavily frequented places. They’re also adaptable to containers, especially if you combine them with informal flowers to break up the rigidity. They’re also superb cut flowers, with the scent pervading an entire room.

Stock related species: Matthiola bicornis has a particularly strong scent at night; the daytime flowers are unexceptional, so plant them discreetly.

Stock related varieties: Trysomic Seven Week stock is the earliest bloomer. It is more tolerant of heat, offering a complete range of stock colors. It grows 15 inches high. Dwarf Stockpot has separate colors of Red, Purple, Rose, White, or all together in a mix. It grows 8 to 10 inches tall. Brompton mixed are double, in red, rose, and white. Evening Scented is white and pale pink and highly fragrant.

Scientific name of stock: Matthiola incana

Want more information? Try these links:

  • Annual Flowers. Discover your favorite annual flowers. We’ve organized them by color, sunlight, soil type, and height to make it easy to plan your garden.
  • Annuals. There’s more to an annuals garden than flowers. Learn about all of the annuals that enhance your garden.
  • Perennial Flowers. Complement your annuals with these delightful perennial flowers. They are also organized by height, soil type, sunlight, and color.

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