These fragrant favorites, with their “heirloom” quality, are beautiful in garden-style and period designs.

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 collards (Brassica).

lookin’ and smellin’ fine.
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 northern Africa.

any time you want.
Stocks are available year-round, but peak season spans February through August.

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.

battling ethyl.
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.

yucky water.
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.

facts of life.
With proper care from farm to florist, stocks should provide consumers with five to eight days of enjoyment.

Click here to purchase the current issue of Florists' Review.

Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.
PO Box 4368
Topeka, KS   66604

Phone: 800-367-4708
Local: 785-266-0888
Fax: 785-266-0333

©Copyright 2009 Florists' Review Enterprises