Carnation, (Dianthus caryophyllus), also called grenadine or clove pink, herbaceous plant of the pink, or carnation, family (Caryophyllaceae), native to the Mediterranean area. It is widely cultivated for its fringe-petaled flowers, which often have a spicy fragrance, and is used extensively in the floral industry.

There are two general groups, the border, or garden, carnations and the perpetual flowering carnations. Border carnations include a range of varieties and hybrids, 30 to 75 cm (1 to 2.5 feet) tall; the flowers, in a wide range of colours, are usually less than 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter and are borne on wiry, stiffly erect stems. The bluish green leaves are narrow, sheathing the stems; there are swellings at the junction of leaf and stem.

How to Plant Carnations

Carnations should be planted in an area that gets four to six hours of sunlight per day. They prefer sunlight rather than shade, so keep this in mind when deciding on their placement. When planting carnations, be sure to use well-drained soil that is fertile and slightly alkalized (pH 6.7-6.9). If the soil is too fertile or water absorbant, the flowers won’t bloom properly or they’ll become discolored. Carnations will grow best in temperatures that are 50-65 degrees during the day and 40-50 degrees at night.

Growing Carnations From Seeds

Plant carnation seeds in a well-drained soil mix, an eighth of an inch deep. Seeds should be spread at least 12 inches apart. Be wary not to overwater the seeds, especially in the beginning stages. A light watering should be done two to three times a week. Feel the soil before watering to be sure it has dried since the last watering. The seeds will begin to germinate in two to three weeks.

Growing Carnations From Cuttings

A majority of professional carnation farmers grow carnations from cuttings. To do this, they use cuttings from terminal flowers (ones that form at the end of the sprout rather than where the stem and branch meet). These cuttings should be 4 to 6 inches. The propagation requires them to be inserted into pure sand and in 25 to 30 days they’ll be ready for transplantation.

Growing Carnations From Division

To revive an old carnation plant, you can divide the plant segments to create multiple plants. Dig up the clump of flowers and pull apart the plant segments (with your hands or garden tools). Replant these divisions in the same manner you would a new perennial or annual, being sure to water them well. This should be done every two to three years to keep your carnations healthy.

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