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Growing Stock Flowers (Virginia Stock Flower, Gilly Flower, Matthiola) | North American Farmer

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Growing Stock Flowers

About Stock: Lovely Flowers, Irresistible Sweet-Spicy Fragrance

by Frances Santos

Growing Stock FlowersStock, also called Virginia Stock Flower, Gilly Flower, or Matthiola, is a native of Southern Asia Minor, South Africa, Albania, Greece, and other parts of the Mediterranean coastal region. It was named after Pierandrea Mattioli, an Italian botanist who cultivated Stock believing that it has medicinal value due to the fragrance. But until today, this theory has not yet been proven.

Nevertheless, Stock is one of the most favorite annual herbs grown by many gardeners.  In fact, it has been a popular ornamental plant since the Victorian Times. Stock is perfect for cottage gardens and cool season gardening. It comes in a profusion of spicy, sweet aroma that resembles cloves, which is at its glory during April and May.

These easy to grow annuals bloom abundantly on long stems from March to August. Yes, growing stocks is a great way to infuse your garden with natural perfume. For most people, stocks symbolize a blissful life and lasting beauty.

Stock flowers come in pink, yellow, white, purple, lavender, magenta, and red. It has 4 cross-shaped petals that form spikes on a stem, set off by oval, toothed leaves. Stock plants are generally low-branching that can only reach 12 to 30 inches in height. Dwarf varieties usually grow 8 to 12 inches high.

Stocks are great for use as border edging, garden bedding, or in flowerbeds, windowsill planters, and containers. They also make good cut flowers. The most popular cultivars are M. longipetala and M. Incana. Matthiola Bicornis is known for its strong fragrance at night. Double flowered stocks are highly valued due to a recessive gene.

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Stock Propagation

Stock plants are propagated by seeds.

Starting Stock Seeds Indoors
Sow stock seeds in the fall as they thrive in cool, humid conditions. Place seeds on a seedling tray filled with potting or fine garden soil. Do not cover the seeds because stock seeds need light to germinate. Always keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. Germination occurs in 6 to 10 days at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Transplant seedlings outdoors after the last frost date.

Stock Starting Seeds Outdoors

Start seeds outdoors in the fall as long as the ground isn’t at risk of freezing. Stock thrives in full sun and tolerates mild shade. Choose a sunny, well-drained site and sow stock seeds 4 to 15 inches apart, depending on variety. You may plant Stocks in succession to guarantee continuous blooming. The seeds will germinate in 7 to 14 days.

How to Grow Stock Flowers

It is important to know when to grow Stocks because they will not produce flower beds during hot weather. In warmer regions, start seeds in the winter to produce spring blooms. Stocks can tolerate light frost but they will not survive in hot climates. Stock plants are not fussy, in fact they grow vigorously and blossom profusely as long you provide them their basic needs – full sun, cool weather, moist/well drained soil, and water.

Caring for Stock Flowers

  • Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch to keep a tidy appearance.
  • Feeding will give you healthier Stocks. You may use:
  • Organic fertilizers – follow label instructions
  • Water soluble, quick release fertilizer – use every two weeks during the growing season
  • Temperature controlled, slow-release fertilizer – apply once during the growing season
  • Pinching back shoots above the part where leaf connects to the stem. This will encourage growth and more blooms.
  • Keep the planting site well-weeded.

Stock Flower Pests and Diseases

In general, pest and diseases do not bother Stocks.