Sweet Pea Specialists
Stock - Identification of Single and Doubles
Updated: Jan 5
Stock (Matthiola incana) is a member of the Brassicaceae family, it is normally grown as a cool climate annual. It has been a favourite in cottage gardens for hundreds of years. The flowers are showy with a clove like scent. The flowers are popular cut flowers and can be dried. The flowers are also edible and be used to decorate cakes and salads.
The flowers are either single or double in form. Most people especially flower farmers and florists prefer the double varieties. The double varieties also have a longer vase life.
Most seeds that are sold as double will also contain single varieties. It is common for people growing Stock for cut flowers to remove the single flower seedlings. So how do you tell these seedlings apart? The secret lies with the Cotyledons.
This is what double seedlings look like. You can clearly see the cotyledons are separated with the first set of true leaves appearing.
With single flowering seedlings the cotyledons are "fused" together.
How to Grow Stock
Given the correct conditions these are very easy to grow plants. They prefer full sun but can handle some shade. Soil needs to be rich, well-drained that has a pH close to neutral. Mulch and keep plants well watered during the summer heat but not wet. Given the right conditions Stock can be a short lived perennial. Some varieties grow very tall and my require staking to support the flowers. Remove spent blooms to promote new buds to form and to prolong the flower display.
Stock are very easy to grow from seed. The most important to thing to know is that Stock seeds require light to germinate. Since I like both the single and double flowers, I direct sow my seeds in autumn and mulch when the seeds germinate. For those who wish to only grow double flowers, it is best to grow your seeds in pots / trays and transplant the seedlings. Allow the seedlings to grow to at least 5cm before transplanting.
Stock as Cut Flowers
Flowers can last from 5 to 12 days depending on the variety. Harvest flowers when the bottom quarter of the stem has opened but before the bottom flowers have started to fade. Spilt the bottom 5 to 8cm of the stem. Condition overnight with stem in very cold water. You can lightly mist flowers to keep them fresh and will encourage the rest of the blooms to open.