STOCKS

For night-scented stock (Matthiola bicornis) see alphabetical entry. Other stocks are usually grown as half-hardy annuals except the Bromp-ton and East Lothian groups which are treated as hardy biennials. All stocks prefer well-drained, fairly rich soil. They tolerate drought. The most popular strain is the ten-week stock, growing to about 18 in. They may also be sown outdoors from the end of April. Separate colours including scarlet, light blue, mauve, yellow, rose, carmine-pink, flesh-pink and white are available. The Giant Perfection ten-week is taller with longer spikes and larger individual blooms. Some amateurs treat them as hardy biennials. The exhibitor should note the Giant Excelsior Column strain. Each plant produces only one huge spike 2 to 2 ft. long. Many gardeners prefer the double-flowered stocks but until recently it was impossible to guarantee seed that would produce a really high proportion of doubles. Hansen’s 100 Per Cent Double Park stocks, which originated in Denmark, are the answer. The singles can be recognised and discarded at an early stage of growth. Raise the seedlings in a heated greenhouse in the usual way and when they are about ½ in. tall, transfer to a temperature of 40 degrees F. to 45 degrees F. for 2 or 3 days. Some seedlings will be found to have dark green leaves, others being a much lighter green — the latter are the potential doubles. Destroy the dark green singles and transplant the light green ones, returning to their original quarters. This new strain is offered in separate colours.

The East Lothian or intermediate stocks grow to about 15 in. and are more bushy than the ten-week type. The Brompton or winter flowering are extra hardy but should not be sown in freshly manured ground as this encourages soft, sappy shoots which may succumb to severe frosts. White Lady, Cottager’s Scarlet and Princess Elizabeth (carmine-rose) are good varieties. The Trysomic seven-week stocks are very early. Treat as half-hardy annuals and to ensure all double flowers destroy the weaker-growing seedlings at the 4-leaf stage. Each plant produces a centre spike about 6 in. high, followed by numerous side shoots, ultimately making a branching plant 12—15 in. high.

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