Carnation, colors and fragrances


Carnation, whether annual or perennial, shares simple and beautiful blooms.

Key Carnation facts

Type – perennial, annual or biennial

Height – 8 to 32 inches (20 to 80 cm)
Exposure – full sun, part sun

Soil: ordinary  –  Flowering: end of spring to early fall

Caring for carnation is easy so here are the tips to produce magnificent flowers all summer long.

Introduction to carnation: a vast number of species!

Red and white carnation with droplets of waterThere are a great many species and varieties of carnation. From the many species, here are the most common ones:

How to plant carnation

For perennial carnation

  • Planting carnationNo importance, plant in fall or in spring, carefully keeping a space of 8/10 inches (20/25 cm) between plants.
  • Perennial carnation cuttings are very easy to perform starting from the month of May.
  • They can also be multiplied through crown division in fall. This means dividing the entire clump. It works when several stems are jutting out from the ground.

For annual carnation

  • Proceed to sow under shelter starting from the month of March, transplant once to nursery pots before putting them in place in spring.
  • You may sow directly in the ground from April to May.

Carnation in pots

Potted carnation with shadow spiritsCarnations of all species will do well in pots. This can actually help control spread, since these self-sow very easily. As annuals, you’d transfer March seedlings or new plants to your containers in spring. Or, sow directly in the pot in April.

The most important is to make sure the soil never dries out. This might mean watering every day. Evening is best, but in hot weather you can give a little water around noon. Make sure it isn’t cold from the tap, let it sit an hour or so before pouring it under the leaves.

Pruning and caring for carnation

Carnation is very resilient and only requires little care.

  • Caring for carnationTo stimulate appearance of new flowers, cut wilted flowers regularly (deadheading).
  • Water in case of prolonged dry spells or heat wave only.

For perennial carnations, cut the stems to an inch (a couple centimeters) in fall and if possible cover with dead leaf mulch.

For annual carnations, pull them out in fall because they don’t grow back year after year.

All there is to know about carnation

Actually, carnation is a common name that refers to a great many grassy flowers, most of them part of the Dianthus family.

The scope and range of the carnation species means there is always one to meet any combination of shape and color.

This perennial or annual, depending on the carnation variety, is nonetheless always abundant in its blooming and thus helps populate your flower bed, edges, rocky ground or garden boxes.

Not to be confused with French marigolds which is part of the Asteraceae family, and which often is lumped together with carnations due to their resemblance, carnation is a distinct set of species and cultivars.

  • Note that, unlike French marigolds, carnation of the Dianthus genus aren’t edible.

With bright colors and very fragrant, seize the opportunity of mixing several species within the same flower bed.

Smart tip about carnation

These carnations hold very well in a bouquet and are beautiful in a floral composition.

Images: Pixabay: Barbara Busquet, Fabio Grandis, Julia Mastritsch, Mila, Matthias Böckel