Virginia stock, or Malcolmia maritima, is an annual and member of the Brassicaceae family of plants that includes cabbages. Its Latin name reveals maritime origins, and in fact, it was originally found rambling along the salty shores of the Mediterranean.
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A close relative of the stock plant, Matthiola incana, this plant is also commonly called gillyflower.
Congenial and Colorful
M. maritima is a prolific wildflower that has naturalized in the US, and may be found in the gravelly soil beside roads and in vacant lots.
It’s a hardy annual, meaning you may sow seed directly into the ground in early spring, for a profusion of low-profile flowers that bloom from spring into summer
M. maritima blossoms are white, pink, and purple. They measure about an inch across, and consist of four petals. Such a configuration is defined as cruciform, or cross-like.
Virginia stock is like the perfect houseguest.
It arrives enthusiastically, sprouts rapidly, and spreads its cheerful blossoms across the garden.
Tolerant of poor soil, low moisture, and salt, it thrives without complaint from spring into summer, delighting everyone in the garden. Then, just as its blossoms begin to fade, this gracious visitor bids its host a fond farewell.
If you live in a cool climate, you may sow a second round of seeds in early summer, for a second flush of color before season’s end.
Malcomia maritima Plant Facts
- Average to dry moisture
- Blooms spring into summer
- Colors vary from white to pink and purple
- Easy to grow
- Full sun to part shade
- Grows from seed
- Hardy annual
- Rapid grower
- Salt tolerant
- Six to 12 inches in height
- Tolerates poor soil
- Zones 3-9
Where to Buy
M. maritima seeds are available on Amazon from David’s Garden Seeds. Each package contains 1000 open-pollinated seeds.
As it is such an amiable plant, M. maritima is a good choice for gardening with children.
It grows quickly and easily, producing the type of exceptional results that boost every gardener’s self-esteem.
Do you have a sunny area that would look spectacular decked out in a pastel floral carpet? Or are you by the sea, where salt-tolerant plants are essential?
Give Virginia stock a place in your garden this summer. You’ll be glad you extended the invitation!
If you’d like to share your experience with this prolific annual flower, please add your comments below.
Product photo via David’s Garden Seeds. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.
About Nan Schiller
Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!