Also known as Dianthus, carnations are commonly grown in gardens and flowerbeds because of their long-last colors and beautiful scents. They make a beautiful addition to borders or garden beds. With over 300 varieties available you can choose from a myriad of colors and annual, perennial, and biennial options.
With minimal care, these beauties will last until the first frost in your area. These 6 tips will help you get the most out of your carnation plants!
1. Sun requirements
Carnations need a garden location that receives full sun. To keep them from growing tall and leggy (where they can't support their flowerheads) they need a minimum of 4-6 hours of direct, unfiltered light.
2. Soil requirements
They thrive in fertile, well-drained soil. If the nutrient content is too high it will promote vegetative growth instead of flowering. They do best if the soil pH is slightly acidic. A range of 6.5 to 7.0 is optimum. Preparedness Mama gives some quick tips on how to test your soil quickly without a kit.
3. Water needs
Carnations do not like to have their roots wet. They are fairly drought tolerant and can survive on the water received through precipitation. This is one reason they are so popular in home gardens and flowerbeds. In the hot summer months -- especially if you live in an area that gets a lot of wind -- water lightly once a week.
To promote continuous blooming, regularly cut flowers from the plants to enjoy inside your home and deadhead spent blooms. Carnations are easy to deadhead with a sharp finger pinch just below where the flower attaches to the stem. If the entire plant has spent blossoms it's really easy too to just use trimmers and clip the entire top of the plant off.
5. Avoid mulching
Carnations are one of the few plants that benefit by skipping the mulch around them. They need sufficient air movement around their stems and need to be kept from any moisture on their foliage. Since mulch will help to retain moisture around the plant it's best to avoid mulching too closely.
6. Divide plants
When plants get too crowded they will compete against each other for water and soil nutrients. This will result in hindered growth and plants nutrient deficiencies. To divide carnations dig up plant clumps and separate using your hands or gardening forks inserted into the center of the clump to pry it apart. Then replant each new section as you would a new plant. Clemson University's Cooperative Extension explains when and how to best divide perennials plants.