How to Plant, Grow and Care For Carnation Flowers

After I hear the phrase carnation, I’m instantly transported a number of years again to a time when conventional crops (people who populated my great-grandmother’s backyard) dominated the nursery. It appeared like something brilliant pink and considerably harking back to the vacations took middle stage, from brilliant pink carnations to waxy anthuriums.

However I do admit that this reminiscence doesn’t utterly do these crops justice. They don’t seem to be old school relics, definitely not with the variety of gorgeous cultivars available on the market at this time. Slightly, they’re intricate crops that deserve a distinguished house in each reduce flower backyard and patio show.

If you wish to begin your carnation rising journey, relatively than spending a fortune shopping for fresh-cut flowers from the shop, observe this information to get it proper.

Carnation Plant Overview


Dianthus caryophyllus

Native Space



Full solar to partial shade

Watering Necessities

Low to average

Soil Kind

Barely sandy alkaline soil

Pests & Illnesses

Aphids, mites, rust, botrytis

About Carnations

Close-up of Sweet William carnations (Dianthus barbatus) blooming in a sunny garden. The stems of the plant are thin and erect, with narrow dark green leaves. The flowers are in the form of a rounded disc with cut, ruffled edges. Petals are bright pink with a white border.
Carnations have a wealthy historical past and are available in varied cultivars, providing a contemporary twist to a traditional flower.

The traditional carnation is part of the Dianthus genus, containing a variety of standard backyard crops, together with Candy William (Dianthus barbatus) and Backyard Pinks (Dianthus plumarius). They’re identified for his or her lovable frilled petals and sometimes spicy scents, lending carnations their different widespread title – clove pink.

The genus title comes from the Historic Greek phrases dios (that means divine) and anthos (that means flower), giving a small trace on the significance of those flowers all through historical past. The species was named Dianthus caryophyllus by the ‘father of contemporary taxonomy’ Carl Linnaeus in 1753 and has remained unchanged since, escaping any potential botanical confusion. The particular epithet caryophyllus refers back to the clove-like scent of the flower (a earlier genus title of the clove plant).

Cultivated for 1000’s of years, carnations have impressed artists, poets, and gardeners with their delicate flowers. Like different flowers, they’ve a number of meanings relying in your chosen shade, from admiration (pink) to good luck (white). They’re additionally the flower mostly gifted on Mom’s Day, relationship again to the early 1900s.

Resulting from their ubiquity, some gardeners may even see these crops as considerably old school. Nonetheless, contemplating the wide selection of distinctive cultivars which are accessible, it’s simple to discover a carnation that fits your backyard with out trying too conventional.


Close-up of blooming carnations in the garden, against a blurred green background. The plant produces upright stems and narrow, elongated dark green leaves with a smooth texture. The flowers are small, double, consist of several layers of rounded petals of bright pink color with white edges.
Carnations will be perennials or short-lived, relying in your local weather.

Carnations are usually grown as long-term perennials, though they are often thought of short-lived and even annuals relying in your native local weather. The fitting setting and loads of love are key parts in extending their lifespan – if that’s your objective.

There are various completely different cultivars to select from, due to the experience of growers within the trade. The pink, white, and pink varieties are essentially the most sought-after (therefore the widespread title clove pinks), however you can even discover carnations in purple, yellow and, a private favourite, bi-colors. Every flower sports activities the fragile frilled petals that make these crops so well-known, together with a candy clover scent (though some cultivars might lose their scent).

Carnation crops usually develop to a few foot and a half tall, with some variation relying in your chosen sort. Once they aren’t blooming from late spring to summer season, you’ll be able to benefit from the blue-green needle foliage that units the stage for the later carpet of flowers. In chilly climates, they are often reduce and guarded over winter to emerge once more the next spring.

The place To Purchase Carnations

Carnation usually grows to a height of 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm) and forms a compact bushy habit. Differs in thin grayish-green leaves of a lanceolate or linear shape. The leaves grow in pairs, opposite each other along the stems. Carnation flowers have a characteristic shape with ruffled petals. The petals are bright pink with a dark center.
Store on-line for particular cultivars or select blended seed packets for an explosion of shade.

Primarily based in your area, carnations are usually planted from seed in late winter or early spring. In case you’re looking for a particular cultivar, buying on-line for the widest potential availability is greatest.

However for those who desire all kinds and a kaleidoscope of blooms, search for blended seed packets just like the Chabaud Mix Carnation Seeds from Botanical Pursuits.


Close-up of a white-gloved gardener's hands planting seedlings of colorful Chinese carnation flowers in a sunny garden. The seedling has narrow lanceolate green leaves and bright pink single rounded flowers with fringed petals. Nearby are containers with flowering seedlings of white and pink carnations.
Begin seeds indoors 8-10 weeks earlier than the final frost date for early flowers.

In order for you quick flowers from these crops (in different phrases, flowers within the first yr), begin your seeds indoors round 8 or 10 weeks earlier than the final frost date in your area. In case you’re not sure, examine your native assets to find out the right time to sow.

Giving the crops this early safety indoors will assist them set up rapidly, doubtlessly producing the primary flush of blooms in summer season. In case you desire to direct sow, you’ll be able to as soon as temperatures have warmed, however you’ll most likely have to attend until yr two to see your first flowers.

Beginning Seeds

Close-up of young carnation seedlings in a seed starter tray. The seedlings have upright, pale green stems with small, lanceolate, pale green leaves.
Use a light-weight seedling combine in a powerful seed tray, and contemplate a seed beginning warmth mat for quicker germination.

Seize a powerful seed tray and fill it with a light-weight seedling combine. Keep away from dense mixes – you wish to present as little resistance to root development as potential whereas nonetheless encouraging the event of a powerful root system. If it’s notably chilly in your area, you’ll be able to supercharge development with a seed beginning warmth mat that may assist enhance germination charges.

Carnations will be began from seed through seed trays.

In case you’ve by no means grown from seed earlier than and don’t have the appropriate instruments available, this Begin My Seeds Bundle comes with every part it is advisable get sowing.

Sprinkle your carnation seeds on high of the soil finely. Cowl with a light-weight layer of seedling combine or a layer of vermiculite, guaranteeing the seeds aren’t planted too deeply. Water very gently with a watering can to keep away from displacing the seeds.

Subsequent, you have to hold the warmth in and create the right setting for fast and powerful development. To do that, you’ll be able to both cowl your tray with a germination dome or use a transparent plastic bag. The good thing about the dome is that the plastic gained’t contact the early leaves, however you can even use skewers to carry the plastic up and away from the crops if wanted.


Close-up of female hands holding a flowering carnation plant in a black plastic pot over a table. There are two more flowering carnation plants on the table and other potted plants ready to be transplanted. Carnation is a herbaceous perennial plant with slender, upright stems and narrow, green, needle-like leaves that grow in pairs along the stems. The flowers are rounded, with fringed petals of red, pink and burgundy.
When carnations are 5 inches tall and after the final frost, transplant them open air in well-draining soil or containers.

Preserve the soil calmly moist however by no means soggy for the primary few weeks. You gained’t have to water fairly often because the dome will assist preserve moisture. Nonetheless, eradicating the lid each few days is greatest to permit air to circulation across the seedlings and restrict your possibilities of mould development.

Your little carnation seeds ought to germinate inside a few days in the appropriate situations. Within the early levels, take away the weaker performing development to present the sturdy seedlings loads of house to develop. Preserve them heat and well-watered till you see a minimum of two units of leaves.

As soon as temperatures have warmed open air (about two weeks after your final frost date) and your carnations are round 5 inches tall, they’re prepared to move open air. You might wish to go away them exterior of their trays for a few days earlier than planting them within the floor to permit them to regulate to their new situations.

While you’re prepared, prep your planting website, guaranteeing the soil is wealthy and well-draining. Make small holes and transplant your seedlings, leaving about 10 inches of house between every plant. When planting in containers, select a well-draining potting combine and guarantee your container has sufficient drainage holes.

The right way to Develop

Carnations might look high-maintenance, however they don’t seem to be tough to look after when they’re planted in the appropriate spot. In order for you them to flower profusely and to proceed to flower yr after yr, there are a number of important steps to observe.


Close-up of blooming Dianthus in a sunny garden. The plant has beautiful small double flowers with ruffled rich red and soft pink petals. The leaves are blue-green, narrow, linear.
For optimum efficiency, place carnations in a full solar spot with round 6 hours of direct daylight.

A full solar spot is greatest to get essentially the most out of your carnations. Loads of direct daylight will give the crops the vitality they should push out carpets of flowers in summer season. Goal for round 6 hours of direct solar, ideally barely longer for those who dwell in a cooler local weather.

In case you dwell in a hotter local weather with intense summers, your carnations will profit from some afternoon shade. Though they love the solar, they’ll wrestle to bloom when scorched by searing noon gentle. In different areas, keep away from partial shade to maintain your crops blooming all season lengthy.


Close-up of blooming Dianthus in the garden under the drops of pouring water from a watering can. Dianthus forms clusters of rounded small flowers with fringed petals. The petals are deep pink and white with dark purple veins. The leaves are lanceolate, elongated, bright green.
Water carnations as soon as per week in spring, make sure that they’ve good drainage, and alter the watering frequency for potted crops.

Carnations usually are not too demanding relating to water as soon as they’re established. However within the early levels of development, when younger roots unfold into the soil, common watering is crucial to create sturdy foundations for later flowering.

In spring, quickly after planting, water round as soon as per week, totally soaking the soil to push the roots to unfold downwards and outwards. The soil ought to by no means be waterlogged, however the appropriate soil texture will assist drain any extra away earlier than it has an opportunity to affect the roots.

Towards the top of spring, when the crops are established, they’re thought of considerably drought tolerant. You’ll be able to enable the soil to dry out barely between waterings with none vital indicators of wrestle. When temperatures are excessive, give them an additional drink to keep away from warmth stress – particularly throughout peak flowering instances.

Watering needs to be high of thoughts for those who’ve planted your carnations in pots. The soil in smaller containers will dry out rapidly, particularly if the pots are saved in full solar. It’s essential to water each few days relatively than as soon as per week to cease the soil from turning into too dry.


Close-up of blooming carnations in a sunny garden. The plant grows in a bushy form, with linear narrow dark green leaves. The flowers are small, double, with pink fringed petals.
Plant Dianthus caryophyllus in well-draining soil to forestall rot, ideally sandy with a impartial or alkaline pH.

When planting Dianthus caryophyllus, well-draining soil is an absolute should. These crops are liable to root rot and crown rot if the soil retains an excessive amount of moisture. In different phrases, when you have heavy clay soil in your backyard, you have to make some critical amendments or plant in containers as an alternative.

These crops will develop greatest in barely sandy soil with a impartial or alkaline pH. Don’t fear an excessive amount of about amending your soil to vary the pH until it is extremely acidic – the crops can usually alter nicely. It’s additionally greatest to amend your soil with compost to spice up natural matter and enhance soil construction.

Local weather

Close-up of flowering carnations in the garden. The plant produces many small double flowers with fringed petals. The petals are deep pink with pale pink edges. The leaves are elongated, narrow, linear, dark green.
Carnations thrive in USDA Zones 6 to 10, preferring hotter temperatures whereas avoiding excessive chilly and warmth.

Carnations have barely completely different local weather tolerances relying on which cultivar you might be rising. However they often develop greatest in USDA Zones 6 to 10. They like hotter temperatures and might’t deal with excessive chilly nicely, however additionally they don’t carry out nicely in excessive warmth.

Due to their Mediterranean origins, carnations are additionally accustomed to dry air. They’ll deal with some humidity, however this may improve your possibilities of fungal illness and different development issues. Preserve them in a sheltered space to guard the stems and blooms.


Close-up of blooming bright pink carnations in the garden. The plant has beautiful double flowers with fringed petals arranged in a circle in several rows.
Carnations profit from common nutrient replenishment with a slow-release fertilizer.

Though they don’t seem to be reliant on fertilizer to develop efficiently, carnations will carry out higher through the years when vitamins within the soil are commonly changed. A slow-release natural fertilizer will cowl all of the vitamins the crops have to develop and flower, limiting your threat of burning the roots (if used accurately).

At all times observe the directions in your chosen packaging precisely, feeding as soon as per yr with a possible further enhance in summer season if wanted. Overfertilizing will injury the roots, finally stunting development relatively than serving to it.


Close-up of female hands in dark green gloves, cover varietal carnations in the garden with cut dry peony leaves from winter frosts. The carnation plant has narrow, elongated, blue-green leaves.
To maintain your carnations in excellent situation, keep in mind to deadhead for steady blooms, reduce them again, and mulch.

Together with these common duties, there are a number of extra chores to think about to maintain your carnations trying their greatest this season and the following.

The primary is deadheading. Eradicating spent flowers as quickly as they begin to die again will direct the plant’s vitality towards producing new blooms. It additionally appears to be like a lot tidier, sustaining the spectacular flowering carpet all through the season relatively than a number of weeks.

In case you’re rising a taller cultivar, you may additionally wish to contemplate supporting weak stems. This can hold the foliage and flowers utterly off the bottom and rising upright, limiting points with pests and ailments on the identical time. As these crops are comparatively small (compared to another decorative giants), you gained’t want very giant stakes.

Lastly, when frosty situations begin to loom on the finish of the season, reduce your crops again and canopy the soil with a layer of mulch to insulate the roots. Make sure you hold your chosen mulching materials away from the crown to forestall rot.

It’s essential to say that though mulching may help retain moisture within the soil and hold weeds down, it does include dangers for carnations. Layers of mulch across the base of the plant in spring and summer season can encourage crown and root rot if there’s no hole between the mulch and the plant.


If you wish to develop extra carnations in your backyard, you will have a wealth of choices to select from. Carnations will be propagated by division, cuttings, and seeds, relying on the plant’s development on the time of propagation.

Propagating By Division

Close-up of blooming carnations in a garden under full sun. The plant forms elongated, narrow leaves, linear in shape, dark green in color with pointed tips. The flowers are medium in size, double, consists of ruffled rounded petals arranged in several layers. Petals are bright pink and pale pink.
Dividing carnations helps develop your assortment and rejuvenate drained or crowded crops.

Dividing carnations is just not solely a helpful apply to develop your assortment free of charge. It additionally means that you can rejuvenate drained or overcrowded crops that won’t carry out in addition to they used to. That is often executed each three years or so for efficiency functions, however you’ll be able to divide each time your plant is giant sufficient to separate efficiently.

Division of carnations is greatest executed within the fall. Goal for the hole between the top of flowering and any extreme temperature drops to get them again within the floor earlier than frost. All you want is a spade and a clear pair of shears.

Along with your spade, mark a hoop across the fringe of the plant and dig straight down into the soil. As soon as your spade is in, elevate the basis system from the underside, persevering with across the edges till the plant is launched. Whilst you might snag some exterior roots, it’s essential to maintain as many roots intact as you’ll be able to.

Carry the plant out of the bottom utterly and take away some soil across the roots. Determine your divisions and both pull the plant aside by hand or reduce into the roots along with your shears. Preserve a wholesome variety of roots on every part and take away any elements of the plant that look diminished or diseased.

Replant every part again into the backyard with new spacing between them. Keep away from burying the crown too deep as this could result in rot – at or simply above the soil line is good.

Propagating From Cuttings

Dianthus cuttings in plastic glasses. The cuttings are vertical short stems with narrow, lanceolate, bright green leaves.
For quicker propagation, choose wholesome stems with out flowers.

In case you’re prepared to attend a bit of longer to see outcomes out of your propagation efforts, you’ll be able to produce much more new crops directly by propagating from cuttings. That is often executed in summer season when development is most vigorous, so long as temperatures usually are not too excessive.

Begin by selecting stems (ideally with out blooms) which are wholesome and damage-free. Your cuttings needs to be round 4 or 5 inches lengthy with a number of units of leaves alongside the stem. Seize a pointy pair of shears and trim the reducing slightly below a node, eradicating the underside units of leaves to show the stem.

After reducing, you’ll be able to mud the top with rooting hormone. This substance stimulates root development and protects cuttings from illness, however there may be nonetheless potential for rooting with out this step.

Plant your ready cuttings right into a propagating combine – I like to make use of a mix of potting soil or coir and sand for Mediterranean crops like carnations or lavender. You’ll be able to plant a number of cuttings in the identical container or tray, however give them sufficient house to develop with out the leaves touching. Water as quickly as you’re completed planting, focusing the stream of water on the soil.

Preserve the container in a heat and brilliant space however away from direct daylight. As soon as root development seems, you’ll be able to transplant them into particular person containers and, later, out into the backyard.

Propagating From Seed

Propagating carnations from seeds. Close-up of germinated clove sprouts in a seed starter tray. The black starter tray has square deep cells filled with soil mixture. The sprouts are small, have thin stems and a pair of green cotyledons.
To propagate from seed, let the flowers type seed heads and dry them both on the plant or indoors.

To propagate from seed, keep away from deadheading the previous few flowers on the finish of the season. Wait till seed heads type and both go away them to dry on the plant or trim them and produce them indoors to proceed drying.

As soon as utterly dry, place the seed heads inside a bag and shake the stems to take away the small seeds. This can enable you to catch as many seeds as potential. You may also go away them open air to unfold naturally (in case your selection does) doubtlessly, however saving the seeds will provide you with much more management over subsequent yr’s development.

When you’ve collected your seeds, save them to plant in line with the directions above when spring arrives.

Carnation Makes use of

Close-up of blooming Dianthus in a large oblong hanging flower pot on a balcony. The plant has large double flowers with ruffled bright pink petals arranged in several rows. The leaves are gray-green, lanceolate, narrow, oblong.
Carnations are versatile crops that thrive in patio containers and complement varied different crops.

Carnations are way over decorative backyard crops. They develop nicely in patio containers (so long as they’ve sufficient gentle) and make good companions for a variety of different crops. They swimsuit the favored cottage backyard aesthetic, too, if an abundance of casual blooms is what you’re on the lookout for.

Carnations are staples of reduce flower gardens, beloved for his or her delicate blooms, and the petals are even edible. I’ve used them as ornament in a number of deserts and cocktails, with the spicy taste offering fairly a shocking distinction to candy dishes and drinks.

Widespread Issues

Close-up of a carnation flower with damaged withered petals on a blurred green background. The plant has a small double flower with ruffled bright pink petals, the edges of which are dry and withered due to disease. The leaves are narrow, lanceolate, green, with pale green and yellowish spots.
Carnations can have points with pests and ailments, lack of blooms, stunted development, and leggy stems.

Carnations usually are not fussy or dramatic. However like all backyard crops, they’re vulnerable to a couple issues. Check out this checklist to know what to be careful for:

Carnations entice mites, thrips, and dreaded aphids. Take away infestations with insecticidal cleaning soap as you see them to cease them from spreading.

Look ahead to fungal ailments like botrytis, rust, and some kinds of wilt, together with fusarium wilt. Yellowing, wilting, and common discoloration point out a difficulty that must be addressed as quickly as potential. Take away contaminated development to regulate the unfold and restrict overhead watering and overcrowding to restrict the possibilities of illness issues.

Shade is often answerable for the shortage of blooms. Plant in a sunny space and sustain with watering to encourage extra blooms.

Low gentle ranges also can result in stunted development, though that is usually an indication of one other problem. Search for indicators of crown or root rot and examine for overgrown roots for crops in containers.

Ageing crops can turn out to be leggy over time. Carry and divide to reinvigorate them. Vegetation also can turn out to be leggy when temperatures are too excessive, requiring some safety throughout sizzling summer season days.

Regularly Requested Questions

Carnations are also referred to as clove pinks, alluding to their scent. The flowers have a barely spicy perfume harking back to cloves, though some varieties may have a stronger scent than others.

Carnation blooms have completely different meanings relying on the colour of the flower. Crimson flowers are usually related to admiration, whereas white flowers symbolize good luck. Pink carnations symbolize gratitude and are sometimes gifted on Mom’s Day.

Though they will tolerate some partial shade in sizzling climates, it’s much better to develop carnations in full solar for the strongest potential flowering.

In the appropriate situations, carnations are usually grown as perennials. They may carry out higher when divided each few years.

Though the petals are edible for people, carnations are mildly poisonous to pets. It’s greatest to maintain them away from any animals to keep away from detrimental gastrointestinal reactions.

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