Family: Brassicaceae
Common Name: Stock

Native to the Mediterranean region, this genus of annuals, biennials and perennials belongs to the same plant family as cabbages and cauliflowers. Originally they were poor quality, shrubby biennials with purple flowers only, but today many improved hybrids are available in a range of colours. Some are very fragrant and are grown for their cut flowers. Stock cultivars are divided into column types, which produce the largest flowers and only one stem, and double-flowering types. Double-flowering stocks do not always produce double flowers, though varieties are available which do produce double, fragrant flowers with long stems. Dwarf types grow to around 30 cm (12 in) and the taller types to about 75 cm (30 in). Stocks look their best in massed groups or as border plants, blending well with pansies, violas and alyssum. They have soft, gray-green foliage and densely clustered flowers in shades of white, pink, lilac, purple and deep red. Most seed contains a mixture of the many colours now available.


M. incana and its cultivars generally grow 30-60 cm (12-24 in) or more high, depending on the variety. The flowers come in various hues: lavender, purple, pink and red, or in white. Cultivars are classified by flower type.

M. longipetala subsp. bicornis, night-scented stock, produces single, perfumed flowers, in various shades of pink to purple in summer and is at its most fragrant at night. It prefers a cool, semi-shaded position and is a pretty edging or rockery plant.


Plant in any reasonable, well-drained garden soil, but not where stocks have been grown in the previous year. Dig soil well and dress with lime and a complete fertilizer, adding some well-decayed manure or compost. Raise plants from seed sown in spring.

Night-scented stock is sown in situ. Successional sowings, a few weeks apart into summer, will ensure a long season of flowers. Stocks to be bedded out for the summer, such as the Ten Week stocks, are sown under glass in early spring and planted out when the frosts are over. The column stocks are sown outdoors in midsummer, and planted out in the following spring. Protect them with cloches over winter in cold areas.

Stocks can be planted in formal beds with other bedding plants, or they can be grown in more informal groups and drifts in a mixed or herbaceous border. Plants need a sunny position and protection from wind. 'autumn stocks will need to be supported, perhaps with twiggy sticks. All stocks need plenty of water during the growing season if the weather is dry.

Remove spent blooms to encourage further flowering. Stocks make excellent cut flowers and the stems should be cut as soon as a few flowers have opened; they will then last for a long time indoors.


Stocks are quite hardy and are suitable for zone 6.

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Matricaria      Maurandya