Matthiola longipetala. Spindly and insignificant by day, it is potently fragrant at dusk! Single, four-petalled flowers are a pale lilac. Best grown either in out-of-the-way spots or with Virginian Stock to combine their complimentary growing habits, colours, and fragrances. Shear back once for continuing scent from July until frost. Stocks prefer cool temperatures, but need full sun to perform well. Once the soil heats up in summer, plants tend to die back. Provide ample water, but very well drained soil. Sow Evening Scented stocks seeds on the surface of the soil. Many sources still use the previous Latin name for this plant, M. bicornis. If given some support, this branching plant will grow to 45cm (18") tall. If grown in containers, it will probably not grow upright.
Expect sturdy, well-branched plants that produce an abundance of early bright, fragrant flowers. They are excellent for cutting. Stocks prefers cool growing conditions. In cold winter areas plant in earliest spring. Where winters are mild set out plants in early fall. Bloom begins in winter or early spring. These annual flowers are sometimes listed as Gillyflowers. Continue reading below for tips on how to grow stocks from seeds.
Season & Zone
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Sow indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost, or direct sow outdoors after last frost. Seeds take 3-20 days to germinate at an ideal soil temperature of 12-18°C (55-65°F).
Stocks are highly susceptible to damping off. Sow on the surface of vermiculite under bright light, with some ventilation nearby. Water only from below. Pot on into sterilized potting soil once plants are large enough to handle, and space them in the garden at 15-23cm (6-9″) apart.
Moist, well-drained, fertile soil is best, with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. Pinch out side shoots for taller plants. Crowding plants encourages earlier blooming. Water regularly and feed lightly every month.