Matthiola incana

Common Name: brompton stock 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Brassicaceae
Native Range: Costal southern and western Europe
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: Cultivars in a variety of colors
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Tolerate: Deer


Stock is a biennial or tender perennial that is winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-10. In St. Louis, it is grown as a cool weather annual in average to humusy, consistently moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Plants tolerate some light shade. Plants generally decline by early to mid-summer once daytime summer temperatures in the 80s or higher become common. Plants also dislike hot nighttime conditions. Nursery plants may be purchased in spring in a variety of forms. Plants may also be grown from seed sown outdoors at last spring frost date, or from seed started indoors about 6-8 weeks prior to last frost date. Repeat sowings of seed (e.g., every two weeks) will help extend bloom period in hot summer areas.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Matthiola incana, commonly called stocks, is grown as a cool weather annual in St. Louis. It is noted for its colorful, clove-scented flowers. A highly fragrant form of stock was identified in the 1700s at the Brompton Park Nursery in London, giving rise to the common name of brompton stock which is still used today, often in general terms, for stock plants. Over the years, a huge number of stock varieties have been developed, mostly hybrids involving M. incana, M. sinuata and M. odorata. Strict species plants are basically no longer available. In general, plants grow to 1-3’ tall on upright stems clad with oblong, hairy, gray-green leaves (to 4” long). Extremely fragrant flowers, both singles and doubles, bloom in dense clusters (terminal racemes) in a large variety of colors including shades of pink, lavender, purple, white, yellow and red. Flowers bloom from late spring into fall (sometimes frost) in cool summer conditions, but bloom time is abbreviated considerably in hot summer climates. This species develops a woody base in areas where it grows as a biennial or short-lived perennial, hence the name of stock.

Genus name honors Pierandrea Mattioli (1500-1577), Italian physician and botanist.

Specific epithet means hairy or gray-white in reference to plant leaves.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Cottage gardens. Beds and borders. Plant in areas where flower fragrance can easily be enjoyed.