This genus from the mustard family contains many plants grown for their scented blooms.
M. incana. STOCK. Old-fashioned plants native to the Mediterranean region, well suited to the cottage garden. All have long, narrow, gray-green leaves and masses of delightfully scented flowers in erect, spike- like clusters.
Valued for fragrance, cut flowers. Oblong leaves to 4 in. long. Single or double, inch-wide flowers with spicy-sweet scent. Colors include white, pink, red, purple, lavender, blue, yellow, cream. Blues and reds are purple toned; yellows tend toward cream.
Many strains are available (most of them hybrids), ranging from under 1 ft. to as tall as 3 ft., from 10 to 16 in. wide. Taller selections are best for cutting.
Need light, fertile soil and good drainage. Like pansies and violas, stocks bloom in cool weather. In the Upper South, choose early bloomers, and plant in earliest spring to get flowers before hot weather comes. Elsewhere, set out plants in fall for bloom in winter or early spring. Stocks take moderate frost but will not set flower buds if nights are too chilly, so late planting delays bloom until spring. In areas with heavy winter rainfall, plant in raised beds to ensure good drainage and prevent root rot.
M. longipetala bicornis. EVENING SCENTED STOCK. To 1 ft. or a little taller, 9 in. wide, with lance-shaped leaves to 312 in. long. Small purplish flowers are not showy but emit a powerful fragrance at night.