Carnations are among the easiest flowers to grow in your garden. They also make lovely additions to bouquets and the cut blossoms may last up to 2 weeks. While red, pink and white are the most popular, you can choose from over 300 varieties of this wonderful plant, and hundreds more hybrids. With all these choices, the biggest problem will be narrowing the field.
Where to Plant Carnations
Carnations, also called dianthus or “pinks,” grow best in full sunlight to partial shade. They need at least 4-6 hours of sunlight per day. They require plenty of room for air to circulate around stems so that the plants do not fall victim to fungus. Otherwise, they are very hardy. The soil should be well drained and fertile but not too rich. These plants prefer slightly alkaline soil (6.7-6.9). Wet soil will cause yellow foliage and may rot the roots, thus killing the plants.
How to Plant
Plant seeds in the garden directly when temperatures are between 50-65 degrees during the day and 40-50 degrees at night. Space them about 12″ apart, and cover with 1/4″ of soil. Seedlings started indoors can be planted in the garden after danger of frost is past.
Keep seedlings moist but do not overwater. The best way to kill carnations is to water them too much. Pests will not usually bother dianthus, so pesticides are unnecessary. Do not mulch carnations during the growing season but only cover with mulch for winter protection.
Care of Mature Plants
Once established, carnations are draught resistant. A light spray of water once or twice a week is sufficient unless the weather is extremely hot and dry. Never allow water to stand around the roots of carnations. Established perennials will withstand a light frost before going dormant for the winter.
The main disease with carnations is fungal, and for this reason, air circulation around the plants is extremely important. Apply fungicide at the first sign of disease.