Night Scented Stock Care: How To Grow Evening Stock Plants
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By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Night scented stock plants are a sensory delight in the landscape. Also known as evening stock plants, night scented stock is an old-fashioned annual that reaches its peak fragrance at twilight. Best of all, evening stock plants are easy to grow and thrive in a wide range of soil situations provided they are in full sun.
What is Night Scented Stock?
Annual flowers add a different dimension and style than perennials. Perennials are aggressively consistent while annuals need to be sown every year to grace the garden with their visage and scent.
Night scented stock plant is one such gentle annual denizen. The flowers are a sweet wonder in faded tones that seem like they stepped out of another century. However, it is the aroma of these blooms that is the real attraction. You just have to stay outdoors into the evening hours to enjoy it. Matthiola longipetala is the botanical name for the plant. The common name is far more descriptive, as it refers to the flowers’ intensely sweet nighttime scent.
Plants grow 18 to 24 inches (46-61 cm.) tall on sturdy stems with silvery green, lance-shaped leaves. Flowers may be single or double and in hues of rose, pale pink, lavender, magenta, maroon or white. The smell of the flowers has been described primarily as resembling vanilla with some rose and spice mixed in.
In United States Department of Agriculture zone 8 and above, the plant should be grown as a winter annual. The plant enjoys weather that ranges from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 27 C.).
Growing Night Scented Stock
Evening stock should be planted in early spring, February to May depending upon your zone. You may also start growing night scented stock indoors two months before the date of your last frost. Space transplants 6 inches (15 cm.) apart and keep them moderately moist. One tip for growing night scented stock is to stagger the seeds so the bloom period will be extended.
Prepare a bed in a sunny location by tilling at least 8 inches (20 cm.) down into soil and ensure that the area is well draining. If it isn’t, incorporate sand or some compost to enhance percolation. Either is fine, as night scented stock plants thrive in either highly fertile or nutrient depressed soil.
Night Scented Stock Care
This is an easy plant to maintain and performs beautifully without much intervention. Keep the soil evenly moist but never soggy.
The biggest pests for evening stock are aphids, which can be fought with bursts of water and horticultural soap or neem oil.
Remove the spent blooms to promote more flowers. If you wish to harvest seed for the next season, allow flowers to persist until they form seed pods. Let pods dry on the plant, then remove them and crack open to release the seeds.
There are many lovely varieties of night scented stock from which to choose. ‘Cinderella’ is a series of beautiful double petal blooms, while the 24-inch (61 cm.) ‘Early Bird’ is a group of tall early blooming stock. Each of these requires the same simple night scented stock care but offer slightly different flowers and sizes.
Use them in containers, borders and even hanging baskets to perfume your landscape and decorate it with gentle color.
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How to Grow Matthiola Plants
The Matthiola plant genus comprises of bush plants that reach heights of between 30 and 75 cm (12 to 30 inches).
They can be either hardy annuals, biennials or perennials.
Flowering is from the end of spring through summer. The plants carry thickly clustered flowers of red, purple, bluem or white that sit atop a spike.
In addition to their attractive looking flowers, Matthiola are also grown for their pleasent aroma.
Some of the common names for Matthiola include Stock, Evening stock, Brompton stock, Gillyflower, and Night Scented stock.
Matthiola incana - Hoary Stock by Phil Sellen, Creative Commons.
Matthiola longipetala - Evening Scented Stocks by Greengardenvienna, CC.
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Garden Ready Plants - Our garden ready plants are selected for garden performance, straight from the nursery. We send them to you 'green' ahead of flowering (but please note some varieties may show a few blooms), which means plants will establish quickly and all their energy goes into producing better roots, so they produce more flowers throughout the season.
Culinary note: Flowers are usually added raw to salads or as a garnish to desserts, they can also be candied. Their flavour is perfumed. For more details about edible flowers click here .
15 stocks garden ready plants (KB1697)
30 stock garden ready plants (55680)
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12 plants for evening scent
Discover 12 glorious plants with rich evening perfume – perfect for warm summer nights.
Published: Friday, 22 March, 2019 at 8:41 am
Sitting outdoors on warm evenings is one of the pleasures of summer. As many of us work during the day – or work in the garden – this is often the best time to relax in our outdoor spaces.
Night-scented plants begin releasing their sweet fragrances as dusk falls. They’ve evolved to attract nocturnal pollinators, such as moths, and are often pale in colour, making them more visible in moonlight.
Plant night-scented plants around a terrace or patio, near an open window or next to a well-worn path to enjoy their perfume more easily.
More scented plants content:
Here are 12 plants for evening scent.
The scented, trumpet-like flowers of brugmansia can reach 30cm long and range in colour from white to soft orange and red. Brugmansia suaveolens is tender, so is best grown in a pot and given winter protection. All parts of the plant are poisonous, so handle with care.
The fragrance of Hesperis matronalis, or sweet rocket, is as sweet as a violet’s, and most pronounced in the evening. It’s a biennial, available in pink and white forms, and self-seeds readily around the garden.
Nicotiana sylvestris is a tall tobacco plant bearing elegant, long, white flowers with an intense fragrance, especially in the evening. Grow it at the back of a border or in a large pot. It’s a biennial or short-lived perennial that self-seeds readily.
Night phlox (Zaluzianskya ovata) is a neatly domed, compact evergreen. It is smothered with pretty, white scented flowers in summer. It’s not reliably hardy, so is best grown in a pot and brought under cover during winter. Deadhead regularly.
You may be surprised to hear that petunias are scented – especially at night. The Tumbelina series gives off a vanilla perfume. Grow in hanging baskets or pots.
Many wisterias are scented, but Wisteria floribunda cultivars are said to have the strongest scent at night. Grow over a pergola or against a house wall, where the scent can waft in from an open window.
From mid- to late summer, star jasmine or Trachelospermum jasminoides produces pretty white fragrant flowers. This evergreen climber is borderline hardy and is best grown against a wall in mild areas.
Lilium regale bears strongly scented, trumpet-shaped white flowers that are flushed with pink. Plants are easy to grow from bulbs, and do well in a sunny border or container display. They also make excellent cut flowers. Toxic to cats.
Our native honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum, is an ideal plant for evening scent. Buy a good-sized plant and train up a wall, fence or pergola.
Night-scented stock (Matthiola longipetala) is an easy-to-grow annual. The tiny blooms pack a fragrant punch. Sow in July for late-summer blooms.
Pinks (Dianthus ‘Memories’)
Low-growing perennial with white, clove-scented blooms. Buy mature dianthus plants and grow in the ground or in containers.
Buy good-sized border phlox (Phlox paniculata) plants of this compact herbaceous perennial. Perfect for containers or the front of a border.
Scent for every month
Would you like some scent in your garden for every month of the year? Discover scented plants for every month.
What is a Night Scented Stock?
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A night scented stock, also known as an evening stock or Matthiola longipetala, is a flower better known for its fragrance than its appearance. These plants are popular among gardeners as an especially easy flower for beginners to grow. Night scented stock blooms from late spring through summer. These flowers are most commonly available as annuals, but perennial varieties are available as well.
A short plant, the night scented stock reaches about 18 inches (45 cm) tall, with a similar spread. Flowers remain closed during the day and might even appear withered, but as evening approaches, the flowers open, revealing blossoms of about three-fourths of an inch (2 cm) wide. Each of these flowers has four petals and might be lavender, white or pink.
Most often, the night scented stock is selected for its fragrance. The scent is often compared to cloves or vanilla. This fragrance becomes stronger when the flowers open in the evening. Gardeners aren’t the only ones attracted to the scent. Butterflies, bees and birds are drawn to the flower as well.
When a night scented stock is planted outdoors, the seeds should be sprinkled in clumps or troughs after spring’s last frost. Light frost will not harm the seedlings and is no concern. In warmer regions where frost is unlikely, seeds can be sown in the fall. Seeds also can be planted indoors, making concerns over late frost irrelevant.
After the seeds have sprouted, the plants should be spread about 1 foot (30 cm) apart. For best results, seeds should be sown in an area with good drainage and plenty of sunlight. Night scented stock is a hardy plant, preferring cool climates, and it does not thrive in very hot weather.
Little maintenance is required for these plants. They require regular watering, but care should be taken to avoid over-watering. No other care is needed, making them ideal for novice gardeners.
These flowers make a lovely smelling addition to gardens and flower beds. They also grow well in containers and can add fragrance to a balcony or deck. Many gardeners choose to place these plants near seating areas to better enjoy the scent.
During the day, night scented stock might appear a bit drab compared to other flowerbed favorites, especially during the day. For that reason, it is often planted with other flowers to combine the strong fragrance with a bright display. Gardeners might choose to stretch the flower’s blooming season by sowing seeds over an extended period.
- Place near a porch, patio, near outdoor seating, or along a path.
- Stay away from combining scents that might compete or become overpowering if concentrated in a small area.
- Plant according to light, water, and soil needs.
- With research and planning, you can have a sweet-smelling garden or patio all year round by knowing what blooms when and staggering accordingly.
- Plants that are especially fragrant will do well in areas that receive lots of traffic, like paths, a patio seating area, or near windows.
Here are 16 plants that smell best at night.