Tips for Growing Carnations

The carnation is a very popular and easy to grow plant that many appreciate as a cut flower and others as a garden plant. The Dianthus genus includes a large number of different carnation species and many horticultural varieties that have been obtained by hybridization.

Some carnations are perennial, others are annual, there are tall species, there are low and even dwarf, but they all develop from a woody strain with fine foliage, between green and gray. It is not complicated to get this plant from seeds, although you can also buy already established bushes and create spectacular flower beds very quickly.

The carnation flower is cup-shaped and its petals, wavy or curly, can be of all colors except blue. The plants bloom from the beginning of spring until the end of summer and are used to cover rockery gardens, borders, embankments or to cut their flowers and make beautiful arrangements and bouquets with them.

Carnation Florist

This is a species of carnation with long stems and large flowers. This morphology makes them ideal for making bouquets and floral compositions.

Dianthus caryophyllus

It is the carnation most used as a cut flower and is usually found in florists throughout the year, although its time of natural flowering is between June and July. It is a perennial but ephemeral plant that is usually grown as a biennial.

It grows up to 50 or 60 cm tall and produces flowers with a subtle perfume, of good size and in a wide range of colors (white, pink, salmon, red).

The ‘Triumph’ variety stands out above the others because its stems are much taller (up to 70 cm) and have especially attractive shades of lilac, mauve, and purple.

Chinese carnation

The Chinese carnation is a species of small size that grows up to 30 cm tall. It has very branched foliage that produces many flowers. It is an easy cultivation plant, ideal for beginner gardeners, with a very large variety of colors: from white, pink, fuchsia, red, salmon, to bicolor or sunflower varieties.

Dianthus chinensis

The Chinese carnation needs fertile, rich and well-drained soil so that it does not flood. Flowering extends from June to August and also has a delicate aroma.

The seeds are sown in seedbeds or in a shallow container, covered with a centimeter of mulch and covered with transparent plastic. The earth must be kept moist and in a shady place, with an average temperature of about 15 ° C until they germinate. When a small plant is formed they can be transplanted to pots or to the garden floor leaving a separation of 25 centimeters between bushes.


The carnation or crowned carnation differs from the florist carnation by having a somewhat smaller size (25 to 30 cm) and more branched stems. It blooms between May and July with double flowers, very fragrant and pink, white or red. They are perennials that support dry land and the maritime climate very well.

Dianthus plumarius

The carnation grows very well in the garden soil, but it also adapts to potting. You need a lot of suns and enough water. It is a very simple crop plant that is easily self-seeded. We can get seeds directly from the flowers and sow them in pots.

Rockery and upholstery carnations

The upholstered carnations are small perennial plants originating in mountainous places that do not exceed 20 cm in height. They grow covering the ground of small flowers but very striking, forming dense carpets of color. It has a form of growth similar to the rest of carnation varieties, with grayish-green stems, of thin diameter and flowers grouped between 2 and 4 cm in diameter.

In the market, we can find upholstered carnations of many colors. The most common are the pink ones, although depending on the variety there are intensely red, purple, white and a mixture of two or three different shades. 

Most popular varieties of upholstered carnation:

  • Alpine carnation ( Dianthus alpinus ): a very lush planet with a height between 10 and 20 cm. It is covered with small bright pink individual flowers in May and June. 
  • Carnation delta ( Dianthus deltoides):  somewhat taller than the previous one (25-30 cm) that gives a multitude of small pink (‘Rosea’), white (‘Albiflorus’) or fuchsia (‘Splendens’) flowers.

Carnation of the poet

Also known as carnation from Japan, it is a perennial variety about 20 or 30 cm tall. It blooms at the end of spring with small flowers grouped in dense corsages.

Dianthus barbatus

It is a herbaceous plant that behaves like perennial in climates with mild winters (Mediterranean or oceanic), and as biannual in cold regions. The inflorescences are shaped like a ball and look like small round corsages. They can be of various colors: white, pink, purple or red. There are also two-color ones, with two different shades. The flowers can be single or double, depending on the variety. The height of the poet’s key ranges between 20 cm and 60 cm. They are rustic plants that support up to -15 ° C approximately.

Carnation cultivation

The carnation is an easy to grow plant that can grow correctly both in the garden and in pots. It’s minimum requirements are:

  • Soil: any type provided it drains properly
  • Exhibition: full sun
  • Temperature: most withstand up to -15 ° C 
  • Maintenance: scarce, just remove paddles and dry leaves

Carnation Multiplication

By seeds

The biannual varieties of the carnation of floristry are sown in seedbeds at the end of winter, where they remain until May, approximately, when they can already be planted in pots. During the first year the plant develops and the second, the flowers appear.

The perennial florist carnation, the Chinese carnation, carnations, and carnations are planted undercover between April and May, transplanted in October and bloom the following season.


Cuttings are a multiplication method that can be used with all carnations.

At the end of the summer, a piece of the stalk that contains some young bud or bud is cut and planted in a mixture of soil and sand. The following spring, when there is no risk of frost, it can already be transplanted to the garden floor.

Kill Division

Some upholstered carnations ( Dianthus plumarius, for example), are perennials that need to be divided every two to four years. The best time of the year to divide the perennial carnations is in spring, just when its vegetative growth begins again.

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