Carnations or ‘pinks’ are a traditional garden favorite with frilly blooms that are laced with a sweet cinnamon or clove-like scent. Fragrance varies in style and intensity between varieties as does height, flower colour and shape. Generally carnations come in shades of pink – hence the common name of ‘pinks’ – they also come in whites reds, yellows and oranges. The flowers are sought after by butterflies. These are real ‘cottage garden’ plants – heroes of many a herbaceous border pathway edge. Great for growing in containers too, dianthus are prolific flowerers that will go right through summer and well into autumn. All types of dianthus make great cut flowers so you can enjoy them indoors as well.
Companions Plant with roses, lavender, Echinacea, aster, foxglove.
Dianthus chinensis ‘Double gaiety’ Chinese pinks, as they are known, are shorter than many other varieties – growing to between 8 and 12 inches 20cm to 30cm in height. Easy to grow and well worth sowing for the masses of double flowers that are crowded with petals in shades of pink, red and white. Great for growing on the edge of veg beds, along pathways and in containers.
Sow or plant in early spring and summer countrywide.
Dianthus grow well in full sun. They work well planted around the edges of vegetable beds and in containers.
Dianthus prefer a fairly well drained soil. Avoid over-watering.
Sow indoors in seed raising compost in punnets or trays 6-8 weeks before you want to plant out. Alternatively, sow seed outdoors after soil warms and all risk of frost has passed. Cultivate soil so that it is loose and free from lumps, firm soil gently and then sow seed about a finger-tip (like half a finger nail) deep.
When your seedlings are about a finger’s length in height and the weather has settled and is reliably warm and sunny, plant seedlings at an average spacing of a hand’s length apart. I usually dot them around the vegetable garden on the fringes. Keep an eye out for slugs.
Water young seedlings in dry periods. Once they are established and starting to grow you shouldn’t need to continue with watering unless weather is persistently dry and young plants show signs of wilting. If plants grow well they may need staking for support in windy areas.
Flowers can be cut for use indoors. Keep picking flowers to prolong blooming.
May survive winter in warmer parts of the country but are generally better sown fresh every year.