Stocks (Matthiola) are super hardy and sturdy plants that are great in containers, on a terrace or as gap fillers in borders. Stock flowers are a favourite in cottage gardens and with a profusion of flowers, they will fill your garden with their sweet scent in April and May regardless of the weather! Here’s our guide on how to grow stocks in your own garden.
What are stocks?
Stocks are known for their dense clusters of fragrant blossoms. The particular range of colours (from white, red, rose, purple, lavender and pink) that stocks can provide, combined with their beautiful scent, has made these flowers a classic of cool-season gardening. They can be grown as of late winter and early spring. Originally, stock flowers grew in the Mediterranean coastal region.
When to plant stocks?
Stock plug plants should be planted out between late August and mid-September. Remember to grow on plants undercover until they reach 8 to 10 cm in height at which point they’re ready to plant out.
To plant from seed, sow out in the autumn if the soil is not at risk of freezing.
How and where to plant stocks
You should plant your stocks where they will be positioned in full sun (though not high temperatures), in moist, freely draining soil. Plant them in a location where the scent will reach you in the garden. Stocks look particularly striking as part of a formal arrangement.
To plant out plugs, dig individual holes for each plant large enough for the stem to be buried no lower than it was in the pot. Water in generously. Feed and water throughout the season. Plant around 15 cm apart; bear in mind that the height will be between 20 and 30 cm. Leave a space of 15 cm between plants.
How do stocks flower?
Stock flowers grow in thick clusters on the spike-like stems. Taller growth and a greater profusion of flowers can be encouraged by pinching the shoots back. The flowers are also used as cut flowers as their scent and densely packed blooms look wonderful in an arrangement.
How to care for stocks
You should regularly water stocks and a monthly plant feeding are all that is required to care for your stocks. Cuttings can be taken from perennials at the end of the summer – snip off a shoot around 5 cm long, ideally cutting at the point of a leaf node. Nip off any flowers or buds on the shoot, and nip away all but three leaves. Dip into a rooting hormone and plant into a pot of compost.
Ready to plant your own stocks display now you know how to grow them? Take a look at our stocks collection.