Welcome the scent of spicy stock to your cool season flower garden.
In recent years, many old-fashioned cottage garden favorites have been making their way back into our hearts and gardens. One of my favorites is stock (Matthiola incarna), which has an intoxicating spicy aroma reminiscent of cloves. Stock thrives in cool weather, so it’s perfect to start early by seed and set out once frosts are past. In milder climates (zones 7 – 10), stock may overwinter as a perennial, and will bloom in the flower garden from winter through spring.
Grow stock in a sunny location for best flowering, and make sure to plant it where the spicy fragrance can be enjoyed. The flowering spikes can reach a couple of feet tall in ideal growing conditions, but the spread is minimal, making it excellent in borders or at the back of the flower garden. Keep the soil moist but well-drained. Stock will start to decline once days consistently reach into the 80s or nights become warm and humid, so plan to set it out early to get full enjoyment. In many cases, you can expect a second flowering from stock once cooler fall temps arrive.
If you can’t find stock at your local nursery, try growing it from seed. ‘Katz Pink’ has a variety of pink shades ranging from pastel to vibrant, while ‘Harmony Mix’ includes violets and whites as well. These seeds must be kept moist, so cover them until they germinate, which should take only a few days. Keep them a little cooler (between 60 and 70 – basements or garages with grow lights may be ideal) and transplant when they have two sets of true leaves. Set out when frosts have finished in your area.