These fragrant favorites, with their “heirloom” quality, are beautiful
in garden-style and period designs.
product FRESH FLOWER
what’s in a name.
Commonly known as “stocks” and “gillyflowers,” these fragrant flowers
are botanically known as Matthiola incana (pronounced mah-tee-OH-la,
math-ee-OH-la or math-EYE-oh-la and in-KAY-na or in-CON-uh).
The genus is named for Pier Andrea Mattioli (1501-1557), an
Italian botanist and physician. The specific epithet “incana” means
hairy, in reference to the plant’s whitish fuzz.
what a family.
Matthiola is a member of the mustard (Cruciferae, a.k.a.
Brassicaceae) family, which comprises a wide array of ornamental
plants as well as vegetables, including candytuft; Alyssum;
Lunaria; watercress (Nasturtium); radish and horseradish; and
kale, cabbage, broccoli/cauliflower, turnip, mustard, mustard greens and
lookin’ and smellin’
Stocks have dense columnar clusters of florets, 3 to 8 inches long,
above soft gray-green leaves. Each floret is approximately 1 inch in
diameter. Both single and double flower forms exist, but the double
forms are the most desirable.
The flowers, which have a strong, spicy clovelike fragrance,
are available in a range of lavenders and purples, pinks and reds,
whites and creams, and pale yellow and peach.
born and bred.
Stocks are native to southern Europe, southwestern to central Asia, and
any time you want.
Stocks are available year-round, but peak season spans February through
buy the way.
Purchase 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 infected florets; soft, limp flower spikes,
leaves or stems; slimy stems; and/or yellow leaves.
Stocks are moderately sensitive to ethylene gas, so ensure your
purchases are treated with an ethylene inhibitor at the grower level or
during shipping. Also take steps to eliminate the production of ethylene
in your shop. Ethylene effects include transparent florets, accelerated
aging and downward-curving leaves.
outside the box.
Immediately upon receipt of these flowers in your shop, remove the
bunches from the shipping boxes, and check the flower quality. Next,
remove all stem bindings as well as any leaves that would be under water
in the storage containers.
the kindest cuts.
Recut the stems on an angle with a sharp knife or pruner, removing at
least 1 inch of stem, to open stems for water uptake. If stem ends are
semiwoody, whitish and/or root bearing, remove that entire section of
stem. Do not pound stem ends; doing so will damage the stems’ vascular
system, preventing water absorption.
on the waterfront.
Immediately after recutting the stems, dip or place the stem ends into a
hydration solution, to improve water uptake. Then place the flowers into
clean, disinfected containers partially filled with lukewarm (100 F to
110 F), properly proportioned flower-food solution. The flower-food
solution will improve the opening of the upper florets and slow the
contamination of the solution.
cool their heels.
Place the container(s) into a floral cooler at 33 F to 35 F, and allow
the flowers to hydrate for at least two hours before selling them or
designing with them.
room to breathe.
To help prevent the development of mold on flower spikes and leaves, and
to ensure that air will circulate adequately, do not pack stocks tightly
in storage containers.
Change the nutrient solution in storage containers and recut stems every
day or two; stock stems can quickly become slimy, contaminating vase
solutions and producing unpleasant odors. Some flower care experts
suggest placing stems in a bleach/water solution (one teaspoon bleach
per gallon of water) for one hour before cutting them and placing them
into a hydration or flower-food solution.
With proper care from farm to florist, stocks should provide consumers
with five to eight days of enjoyment.
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