The common stock flower is an easy to grow annual plant that is well loved for its sweet and spicy scent, which is often likened to a delicate, earthy tea. Growing from the small genus malcolmia, these plants are a member of the extensive brassicaceae family, and are native to regions of Asia Minor and Europe. These plants generally grow between 2 to 2 and ½ feet in height; however, there are also dwarf varieties that may be seen growing only as tall as 8 to 12 inches. These flowers bloom in abundance upon a tall, erect raceme, and bear only four large petals per head. Their foliage is generally medium to light green, oval, and may be either toothed or whole. These blossoms come in a range of bright colors – from white, pink, red, yellow and purple, to more dramatic shades of crimson and lavender.
Given its history as an easy-blooming blossom, the stock flower has become one of the best loved garden plants around. In fact, these flowers are not only commonly planted as border edging and flowerbed fillers by seasoned gardeners, but by novices as well – frequently being placed in starter garden kits for small children. Although their popularity is something of a recent occurrence, these plants have long been known for their many charms. One of their first noted appearances was in the Mediterranean region during the late Middle Ages. After their discovery, they began popping up in a number of European gardens, and, in fact, started a bit of friendly competition between the weavers of Upper Saxony in Germany. During their spare moments, these individuals began to cultivate different types of stock flowers; however, it later became necessary to change the rules of this competition so that only one cultivar may be submitted per village – so as to maintain the plant’s integrity. Because of their ease of growth, many people – like the German weavers – have attempted to hybridize and cultivate more extraordinary varieties. The double-headed stock flower has always been a prized blossom, and many theories have popped up that describe how to obtain this type. In 1922, the Standard Cyclopedia stated that the only way to develop a double-headed plant was to pick out the longer seeds – which commonly grow single heads – and only plant the shorter variety. Another theory states that plucking all but a few seed pods would increase the sap flower, and thereby increase the chances of obtaining a double-headed bloom.
The stock flower is often associated with beautiful symbolism. They are most commonly said to represent a contented and happy life; however, they are also thought to mean undying affection and love, as well as lasting beauty. Because of these symbols, stock flowers are often given as gifts as emblems of love, contentment and the wish for the recipient to be as happy and beautiful tomorrow as they are today.