Stocks – botanical name Matthiola incana – are pretty cottage garden plants that have been a gardeners favourite for hundreds of years!
Some varieties grow up to 3 feet tall, although most are between 12-24 inches.
A member of the brassica family, their blue-green leaves resemble tiny cabbage leaves, and when the flowers drop off the remaining foliage looks very much like a brassica that’s gone to seed.
Coming in a wide range of colours, from pastel pinks and apricots, to vibrant shades of crimson and purple they have a delicate fragrance very popular during the Victorian era.
Stocks like a rich, well draining soil and enjoy full sun, but will bloom just fine in partial shade conditions, as long as they get at least 2-3 hours of sun per day; indirect sunlight will also keep them blooming.
Too much hot, bright sunlight will overwhelm them, so morning sun is better than afternoon sun.
Water regularly in the heat of summer, being careful not to overwater, as this can make the leaves go yellow.
Dead-heading after petals wilt will keep the plants looking neat and can help generate new growth and possibly more blooms.
Stock can easily be grown from seed, but should be sown early as they tend to wilt in late summer heat.
As seedlings mature, pinch back the budding growing tips for a more dense cluster of blooms.
Ideal for cutting flowers as they have long-lasting blooms and also makes an excellent dried flower.
The flowers are also edible, with a delicate floral taste, that can be added to salads, or as a garnish to desserts.