Stock flowers are an all-time friend to florists and gardeners. Stock flowers are commonly used in floral arrangements and also simply stunning as a mono bouquet in one block colour or a mix of the available colours in white, pink, red, purple, yellow and green.
The botanical name is Matthiola incana, which means "hoary (hairy) stock.” The four-petaled florets bloom on slender stems (racemes) branching off the main spike and can be single or double blooms. Stocks are originally found in the Mediterean area, but the cultivated species are now grown all year round in greenhouses.
Here's how to keep them simply stunning
Recut stems and place in a bleach or biocide solution for an hour to protect against stem block from botrytis infection. Then place in fresh water with some sugar or flower food to encourage full bloom.
Stock stems may be a bit woody, but standard processing techniques of frequently recutting stems and keeping the vase scrupulously clean will work best to maximize water uptake and vase life. It will also reduce the swampy odor that can develop with improper sanitation.
Flowers air-dry beautifully when they are tied loosely (around three to five stems in a bunch) and hung upside down in a warm, well-ventilated area. If they’re dried fast enough, their fresh scent will be preserved along with them.
Actually a member of the cabbage family, stock has edible flowers and green seed pods which share the family’s snappy, radishy flavor and make a tasty addition to salads and garnishes. (Leaves and roots are not edible.) Tempted to take a nibble? Try some organic homegrown stock and leave the preservative-treated florist flowers for show. Bon appétit!
As member of the Brassicaceae/Cruciferae (cabbage) family, stock plants are related to turnips, arugula, wasabi and canola.
Stock was all the rage in 16th century Saxony (now part of Germany). Gardeners were so successful in breeding new colors that the government assigned each village its own official hue in order to develop the purest colors. New hybrids are still being developed, but breeders don’t have to leave town to find new colors these days.
“Gillyflower” was a common name in Renaissance England, applied to several leggy-stemmed, ruffly-petaled, spicy-smelling garden flowers: stock (Matthiola), its cousin, wallflower (Erysimum), and carnation (Dianthus). Today, “gillyflower” only refers to stock, but when Chaucer and Shakespeare used the name, they were talking about carnations.
The Matthiola genus is named for Pietro Andrea Mattioli, a 16th century Italian physician and botanist who first expanded the field of plant science beyond plants with medicinal value. The genus includes about 50 species of stock, including the florist’s M. incana.
In the Victorian “Language of Flowers,” individual colors of stock have their own nuances, but collectively they symbolize overflowing affection and contentment.
Surprise one with stocks
Stock flowers are also great for gifting. Surprise someone with a mono bunch of Stock flowers in one block colour or as a mix. Order here before Mondays and Sprouts & Sparkles florist is happy to have them ready on Thursdays for you!