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Garden Perennials - Dianthus, Pinks and Carnations

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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:41 pm    Post subject: Garden Perennials - Dianthus, Pinks and Carnations Reply with quote

Garden Perennials - Dianthus, Pinks and Carnations
By Andrew M Kelly

Dianthus (pinks & carnations) are an extremely popular garden perennial with it's popularity being due to the amazing array of beautiful blooms which they produce. All pinks and carnations are suitable for use as a cut flower in flower arrangements but he best are florists' or perpetual carnations (the ones you see guys wearing in their buttonholes at weddings), unfortunately these plants are not suitable for growing outdoors.

Pinks are usually grow much smaller than carnations and are scented. Some types of pink flower twice in a season, once in the summer and again in autumn. The single flowers range in colours and types, they are carried on fine stems, have five petals which overlap slightly.

Flowers are split into four classifications of self, bicolour, laced and fancy. Self coloured pinks are of a single colour while the others are of mixed. Bicolour flowers have a patch, of a darker colour, at the base of each petal and in laced flowers this base is extended in a strip along the edge of each petal. Fancy flowers, as the name implies, are more elaborate with richly decorated petals which have speckles or stripes of a contrasting colour.

Carnations are much larger dianthus with border carnations (dianthus caryophyllus) growing up to 90cm (3ft) in height. Like pinks, carnation flowers have four classifications which are called self, fancy, picotee and clove.

Self and fancy are much the same as for pinks but picotee flowers have a white or yellow ground colour with each petal having a margin of a different and contrasting colour. The classification of clove refers to the fact that these flowers have a fragrance of cloves as their appearance is widely varied being single coloured or a combination of differing colours.

. A nice display of carnations, photo / pic / image.

Popular Species of Dianthus
Arrow Dianthus x allwoodii a popular modern pink which grows up to 15cm (15in) high.
Miniature pinks grow up to 15cm (6in) high.

Arrow Dianthus alpinus is a rock pink which grows up to 10cm (4in) high.

Arrow Dianthus arenarius a pink which grows up to 30cm (1ft) high.

Arrow Dianthus x arvernensis pinks which grow up to 15cm (6in) high.

Arrow Dianthus deltoides (pinks) grows up to 23cm (9in) high.

Arrow Dianthus gratianopolitanus, syn. D. caesius a pink which grows to a height of around 10-30cm (4-12in).

Arrow Dianthus neglectus a pink which grows to a height of between 10-23cm (4-9in).

Arrow Dianthus plumaris, from which most old-fashioned pinks are developed, grows up to 38cm (15in) high.

Arrow Dianthus caryophyllus (carnation) grows up to 60cm (2ft) in height.

Cultivation and Propagation
Pinks and carnations are pretty easy plants to grow with carnations requiring a little more attention than pinks. Dianthus prefers a neutral to alkaline soil that is well-drained. Pinks and carnations should be planted, in shallow holes, in spring or autumn in a sunny site.

Some of the larger plants will require bamboo canes for support. If your pink is not developing side shoots pinch out the growing tip in mid spring. Pinch out flower buds on the flower stems of carnations to ensure that flowers only appear at the top. Feed pinks in spring but carnations are best left and removed after 2 years.

To increase carnations layer towards the end of summer and, after about 8 weeks transplant into the garden as they should be well rooted. To propagate pinks take side shoot cuttings and grow in cold frames until they are well rooted. Dianthus can be grown from seed but seedling show variation. Sow seed in late spring to early summer.

Aphids can attack all parts of dianthus with most damage being caused by root aphids. Aphids on the stems, leaves and stalks leave a sticky residue.

Pinks and carnations suffer greatly if left to grow in poorly drained soil which is allowed to remain too wet as crown rot is likely to develop. In damp, humid conditions exist, and where the plants are overcrowded, plants can develop leaf spots. Dianthus can also suffer from a covering of a fine white powder called powdery mildew.

If you wish to discover more about Dianthus (pinks and carnations) and other popular garden perennials visit

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