(muh-THY-oh-luh or mah-tee-OH-luh
and in-CON-uh or in-KAY-nuh)
Stocks are “spike” flowers, with dense columnar clusters, 3 to 8 inches long, of fragrant round florets at stem ends. Most cut-flower varieties are double flowered, and the blooms have a strong spicy clovelike fragrance.
Leaves are soft, gray-green, oblong and up to 4 inches long, and stem lengths typically range from 12 to 28 inches.
Stocks are available in purple, lavender, blue-violet, fuchsia, magenta, pink, rose, mauve, apricot, peach, salmon, yellow, cream and white.
When properly processed and cared for, stocks can last from about three to eight days at the consumer level, depending on their maturity at the time of sale.
Stocks are available year-round.
Unpack stocks immediately upon their arrival, and check the flower quality. Remove all stem bindings and any foliage on the stems that would be under water in storage containers. Rinse stems under running water, especially those of field-grown flowers, to remove microbes, dirt and debris.
Recut the stems on an angle with a sharp blade, removing at least 1 inch of stem. If stem ends are semiwoody, whitish and/or root bearing, remove that entire section of stem because water uptake is restricted through such stem ends. Do not pound stem ends; doing so will damage the stems’ vascular system and impair the uptake of water and nutrients.
HYDRATION AND NUTRITION
Immediately after recutting the stems, dip or place the stem ends into a hydration solution. Then place the flowers into clean, disinfected containers partially filled with warm (100 F to 110 F), properly proportioned flower-food solution.
After processing stocks, promptly place them into a floral refrigerator at 33 F to 35 F, and allow them to hydrate for at least two hours before selling or arranging them. Except for design time, keep these flowers refrigerated until sold or delivered.
Stocks are moderately sensitive to ethylene gas, so check with your suppliers to ensure your purchases are treated with an ethylene inhibitor, preferably at the grower level or during shipping, and take steps to eliminate ethylene production in your department. Exposure to ethylene can cause transparent florets, accelerated aging and leaves to curve downward.
To help prevent the development of mold on flower spikes and leaves, do not pack flowers tightly in storage containers, ensuring there will be adequate air circulation among the stems.
Also, change the nutrient solution in storage containers and recut stems every day or two because stock stems can quickly become slimy, contaminating vase solutions and producing unpleasant odors. One recommendation is to place stems into a bleach/water solution (one teaspoon bleach per gallon of water) for one hour prior to recutting them and placing them into hydration and flower-food solutions.
Instruct customers to recut stems of vase-arranged stocks and to change the nutrient solution every other day. sfr
• Buy only stocks that have at least six—but no more than half—open florets per stem.
• Avoid bunches with smashed, flattened, bruised, brown, molded, rotted or otherwise damaged florets; soft, limp flower spikes, leaves or stems; slimy stems; and/or yellow leaves.
WHAT’S IN A NAME The genus Matthiola is named for Pier Andrea Mattioli (1501-1557), an Italian botanist and physician who was the personal doctor of Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria, and Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor. The specific epithet (species name) “incana” means hoary (hairy), in reference to the leaves’ fine whitish fuzz.
FAMILY MATTERS Matthiola is a member of the Cruciferae/Brassicaceae (mustard) family, which comprises a wide array of ornamental plants as well as vegetables, including candytuft (Iberis); madwort (Alyssum); money plant (Lunaria); watercress (Nasturtium); radish (Raphanus), horseradish (Armoracia) and Japanese horseradish (Wasabia); and kale, cabbage, broccoli/cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnip, mustard, mustard greens and collards (Brassica).
HOME SWEET HOME Stocks are native to the Mediterranean region including southern Europe, southwestern Asia and northern Africa.
To view 15 other varieties, download the PDF.
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Some information provided by:
Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Chain of Life Network® , www.chainoflife.org
Cut Flowers of the World
by Johannes Maree and Ben-Erik van Wyk
by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
SAF Flower & Plant Care,
by Terril A. Nell, Ph.D. and Michael S. Reid, Ph.D.
Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners
by William T. Stearn
Photos: Ocean View Flowers; Lompoc, Calif.