Malcolmia (Virginia Stock)

Malcolmia flowers

A popular low growing hardy annual that quickly produces a profusion of gay little flowers in spring and summer. Very easy to grow and particularly popular as a children's starter flower.

Family: Brassicaceae (cabbage)
Botanical Name: Malcolmia
Common Names: Virginia Stock

Foliage: Deciduous, narrow, simple or pinnately lobed grey-green leaves.

Flowers: Tiny, lightly scented, cruciform flowers. In a range of colours, including white, yellow, mauve, pink, red and blue.

Flowering Period: Spring and summer (8 to 12 weeks after after sowing).

Soil: Moist but well-drained, humus rich, moderately fertile soil. Any pH.

Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Plant in a west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered position.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Hardy annual in UK.

Origin: Europe, Asia and North Africa.

Hardiness: Hardy in mild areas of the UK (usually dies after flowering at the end of the season).

Planting and Growing Malcolmia

Grows very quickly from seed. Ideal as a quick gap filler between newly planted perennials and shrubs. Also useful as a container or edging plant.

Taking Care of Malcolmia

Water well in dry weather.

Pruning

Pull up and discard plants on the compost heap, at end of growing season.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to attack by slugs and flea beetles. Can be affected by a downy mildew.

Propagating Malcolmia

Make successional sowings outdoors in a prepared bed, border or container. They dislike root disturbance so sow them where they are to flower. Sow from March onwards to ensure a long flowering season. For example: sow in spring for summer flowering, in summer for late summer flowering and in the autumn for the next spring. Thinning is not normally necessary. Self-sown seedlings often occur.

Popular Varieties of Malcolmia

The main species cultivated in UK gardens is M. maritima

Malcolmia maritima (Virginian stock) is usually sold as mixed seed. However, single-coloured varieties, such as 'Crimson King', are also available. Height to 9in (23cm), spread 6in (15cm).