Stock, also known as Matthiola incana, is a popular flowering plant that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. These plants are native to the Mediterranean region and typically grow 1-2 feet tall. Stock boasts a compact, bushy growth habit and has a well-branched structure featuring numerous erect stems that are adorned with a profusion of attractive flowers.
Growing and Caring For Stock
By providing Stock with the right growing conditions, you can enjoy the beauty and scent of its flowers throughout the growing season:
- Stock is best grown in cool weather, making it suitable for spring and fall plantings.
- Choose a location that receives full sun to partial shade. Make sure the plant receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.
- Stock thrives in well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. The soil should be rich in organic matter to promote healthy growth and abundant flowering.
- Before planting, amend the soil with organic matter to improve its structure and fertility.
- Well-draining soil is crucial to prevent waterlogged conditions. If your soil has heavy clay or tends to retain water, consider adding perlite or sand to improve drainage.
- Water consistently, keeping the soil evenly moist. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings to prevent waterlogging.
- Watering in the morning allows the foliage to dry before evening, reducing the risk of fungal diseases. Stock may require more frequent watering during hot and dry periods to maintain optimal moisture levels.
- Stock benefits from regular feeding to support healthy growth and prolific flowering. Use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10 or 14-14-14.
- Granular or liquid fertilizers can be suitable for feeding Stock, and a slow-release fertilizer applied at the beginning of the growing season can provide continuous nourishment.
- Pruning is a key aspect of caring for Stock. Pinch back the growing tips when the plants are about 6 inches tall to encourage branching.
- Deadhead spent flowers regularly to promote the production of new blooms and extend the flowering period.
Leaves and Flowers
The leaves of Stock are narrow and lance-shaped, forming a dense cluster at the base of the plant. The foliage is typically dark green, providing a beautiful backdrop to the vibrant blossoms. The flowers are often fragrant, exuding a delightfully sweet scent that perfumes the air. They are borne in dense clusters at the tops of the stems, creating a stunning floral display. The individual flowers of Stock are four-petaled and come in a wide range of colors, including white, pink, lavender, purple, and various shades of red.
Uses in the Garden
As a garden plant, its captivating flowers and delightful fragrance make it an ideal choice for creating sensory gardens or adding an aromatic touch to borders, beds, and containers. Stock’s upright growth habit and compact size make it an excellent candidate for edging, providing structure, and defining garden spaces. The cut flowers of Stock are highly prized for floral arrangements and bouquets, thanks to their beautiful colors and enchanting fragrance.
In addition, stock plants have a rich cultural history. In ancient Greek mythology, the stock plant was associated with the god of love, Eros. The flower was said to have been created when Eros shot an arrow at the ground, and the plant grew from where the arrow landed. The stock plant has also been used in weddings and other ceremonial events for centuries, symbolizing purity and fidelity.
Is Stock Annual or Perennial?
In regions with mild winters, Stock may persist as a perennial, regrowing from the base in the following season. However, in the SC Upstate we treat Stock as an annual, as it may not survive frost and freezing temperatures. To enhance the chances of overwintering, apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plants in late fall.
How Big Does Stock Get?
Stock (Matthiola incana) typically grows to a height of 12 to 36 inches and has a spread of about 12 to 18 inches.