Virginian Stock - (Malcolmia maritima) - The Prettiest, Easiest Annual to Grow
Virginia Stock or Virginian Stock?
Both names, Virginia or Virginian Stock, are correct.
In the UK, the name Virginian Stock is used, but in the US this flower is called Virginia Stock.
Both have the botanical name of Malcomia maritima.
One of my all-time favourite garden flowers has got to be Virginian Stock.
Its botanical name is Malcolmia maritima, and if you see a seed packet for sale locally, grab it!
This wonderful little plant is a great border, edge of border, or even cracks in pavement filler, and will fill your garden with colour and scent all summer long.
Children's gardens are often filled with Virginian Stock, so easy is it to grow.
The seeds are tiny, and to be quite honest, the hardest part of growing it, is scattering the seeds wide enough apart to allow each plant to grow to its full potential.
Despite seed packet warnings to the contrary, if your plants germinate too close together, you can transplant them to a different location.
I know, because I have done it often. I am hopeless at scattering seeds widely enough.
If you can dig down into the soil where they are growing, you can loosen up the earth, and release the seedlings with their roots relatively intact.
Then just make some finger-sized holes elsewhere, and drop them in, one by one, and water in well.
Planting Position - Full sun
Sow: March - June (Northern hemisphere)
Flowers: July - September
Sow seed directly into finely raked, moist, warm, weed-free soil directly where the plants are to flower. Lightly rake the surface to allow light to penetrate.
Germination takes 7 - 21 days.
Thin them out as required, as they come through.
Leave a final spacing of 15cm (6") between plants.
How to plant Virginian Stock
Virginian Stock seeds are tiny.
Small seeds want to be planted as near the to the surface of the soil as possible, without actually exposing them.
The reason we don't want seeds exposed is because the wildlife will be off with them before we know it!
Birds and insects are always on the lookout for a free meal.
To plant Virginian Stock seeds:
- Dig ground over and remove weeds.
- Use a rake to break the surface soil down to a fine tilth.
- Scatter seeds over the surface, according to the seed packet manufacturer's instructions.
- Gently rake them into the soil.
- Water well, and keep watered during dry spells.
They take about 7 - 21 days to germinate.
Fast Growing plants
Virginian Stock are fast-growing plants, and once germinated, it is no time at all before they are flowering.
You don't have to do anything at all, except keep them weed-free.
Once they start flowering, they flower all summer long. You do not have to dead-head them because the flowers are so long-lasting.
The wonderful pastel shades of Virginian Stock remind me of dolly mixtures, those pretty sweeties (candies) that kids love.
Save the seed of Virginian Stock
If you have never grown Virginian Stock before, or even if you are a veteran grower, save the seed at the end of season.
What you buy in a seed packet is probably less than one single flower produces!
While it is cheap to buy new seed packets each year (Virginian Stock is an annual, and so will not return on its own the following year), if you save the seed then you could have a fantastic display the following year.
- Wait until the seed heads have not only formed, but have died.
- You need to keep a careful watch on your plants, because there is a fine line between the seeds coming ready on the seed-heads, and Mother Nature taking over, and scattering the seeds to the four winds.
- Cut your browned seed-heads into a paper bag, and then carefully strip the seeds out.
- Keep in a sealed container in a cool place, and plant out the following spring.
Have you grown Virginia Stock?
Extracting the seeds from a Virginia Stock seed-head
If you look carefully at the photo, you will see that the seed-heads are long and very thin.
As the shell of the seed pod dies and dries out, the base end of the seed-head begins to open naturally.
Hold this edge and strip right back from the pod to release the seeds into a container.
Turn the seed-head over, and repeat on the other side to extract all the seeds, which are brown when ripe.
Discard any green seeds as they are unripe and will not germinate.