Take stock of stocks

Pop these out of their pots and nestle them down into the middles of large patio pots as the “thrillers.” Surround them with “fillers” and “spillers” and you’ll have a cool-season show.

You’ll see stocks in floral designs fairly often. Florists love this plant for its sturdy stems and bold colors of rose, pink, purple, violet, and white.

It’s when you see it growing in a patio planter, or in a warmer climate, out in the garden – that’s when you know you’re dealing with a serious enthusiast.

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Here’s an old-fashioned plant that deserves some new-fangled attention. How rich are these colors! Click image for larger view.

Here’s what you’ll want to know…
Scientific name: Matthiola incana.
Common name: Stocks.
Height: 12-18 inches, depending on varieties.
Bloom time: Winter in South Texas, early spring through mid-spring in rest of state. Plants go downhill when temperatures are consistently over 80F.

Rich purples are always welcome in landscaping.

Annual/Perennial: Cool-season annual.
Sun/Shade: Best in full sun.
Fragrant: Yes. Plant near walks and entries. Double-flowering types may be less fragrant than single-flowering ones.
Uses in landscape: Massed in small beds; as “thriller” plants in centers of patio pots.
How sold: The plants are stocky and sturdy. You really don’t want to start with anything smaller than a 6-inch container.

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Potting soil: Loose, highly organic. Probably no native soil in containers.
Fertility needs: Water-soluble, high-nitrogen food in diluted solution each time that you water them.
Water requirements: Keep moist at all times, particularly when cold weather is expected.
Cold hardiness: Should be protected with frost cloth anytime temperatures will be at or below freezing. If sustained freezing is expected, move plant into a bright spot in the garage until the cold has passed.
Pest problems: Very few, although aphids may show up.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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