Native To Europe & Asia
Native mostly to Europe and Asia, dianthus is a genus of over 300 annual, biennial and perennial species (many of them hybrids) in the Caryophyllaceae family. Commonly called “pinks” or “carnations”, dianthus means “divine flower” in Greek . Though best known for their various shades of pink, dianthus carnations are available in single, double and semi-double blooms of every color, except true blue and green. Most dianthus contains a sweet/spicy aroma similar to cloves, especially D. arenarius, D. gratianopolitanus and D. plumarius species. Dianthus flowers may be “selfs”, meaning all one color, “fancies” (having contrasting colored stripes or spots), “picotees” (having petals edged in a contrasting color), or “laced” (having a center zone of contrasting color).
Most varieties are low-growing (less than 2 feet) with silvery grey or blue/green foliage that is evergreen or semi-evergreen. Dianthus makes superb cut flowers and border plants, such as Sweet William, Cottage Pinks and Carnations. Sweet Williams are biennial or short-lived “picotee” perennials that bloom in bicolor flowers in late spring. Pinks grow low to the ground, making them perfect for rock gardens and containers. Carnations are taller, excellent as cut flowers and for bouquets, but less hardy than other dianthus.
Growing Recommendations - Dianthus
All dianthus prefer full sun, but may require light afternoon shade in hot areas. They also require light, well-drained, slightly alkaline soil in an area with good air circulation to prevent stem and root rot. Avoid overwatering and mulching the plants to prevent disease. Most varieties bloom in midsummer, but some will bloom a second “flush” if faded flowers are removed. Perennial varieties should be treated as hardy annuals as they are short-lived, especially in the humid Deep South. Propagate dianthus from seed (for annuals and biennials) or by division or layering of cuttings made from the tips of growing shoots (for perennials).