Dianthus, also known as Pinks, Carnations, and Sweet William, are some of the most popular flowers for the home garden. They are versatile, long lasting and generally disease and pest-free. They work well in flowerbeds, borders, rock gardens, and in planters.
Although they are best known for their pink color combinations they come in many color varieties and can probably be found in a color combination to suit nearly anyone’s taste. Their blooms make wonderful, long lasting cut flowers to enjoy inside the home. Dianthus is easy to grow and will make an attractive addition to your flower garden.
What is a Dianthus plant?
There are over 300 species of dianthus that can be grown as annuals, bi-annuals and hardy perennials. Their flowers, which are about an inch in diameter, are profuse and highly fragrant with a serrated, or ragged, edge. The plant typically grows to about 18-24 inches in height, although there are a few varieties that can get up to three feet tall! Make sure you know which variety you are planting so you get the desired height.
Dianthus flowers come in many solid colors including pink, white, red, rose, and lavender. There is even a yellow dianthus. They also come in bi-colors that offer a broad range of color combinations that can be fun to experiment with in your garden.
It is interesting to note that the name “pinks” does not come from their color, but rather their serrated edges. The old English word “pynken” was the name for pinking shears, which had serrated or ragged edges similar to that of the flowers.
Culture, Care and Planting of Dianthus
- Dianthus performs best in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. They should receive no less than 4-5 hours of sun a day.
- Dianthus is usually grown from seed. You can sow directly into your garden after all signs of frost are gone and the soil has warmed up a bit. Plant the seeds about 10-12 inches apart and cover lightly with soil. You can apply a general fertilizer (10-10-10) when planting and give them a good watering.
- You can also start the plants from seed indoors about 6-8 weeks before planting in the garden. Starting early indoors assures early blooms in the garden. Check out these directions on starting dianthus seeds indoors.
- Dianthus can also be purchased in small pots or flats at local garden centers and transplanted directly to your garden after the soil has warmed up. Look for healthy plants without yellow, brown or dropping leaves or signs of insect damage or powdery mildew. Place the plant at about the same level in your garden soil that it was at in the pot, apply a general fertilizer (10-10-10 works well) and give them a good watering.
- Once your dianthus blooms and the flowers have been spent you can pinch them off to encourage new blooms or give the whole plant a good sheering to encourage a new flush of blooms. This can be done multiple times throughout the season.
- Re-apply a general fertilizer (10-10-10) 4-6 weeks after planting.
- Dianthus requires an average amount of moisture. If they have not received an inch of rainfall per week, you can supplement by hand watering. Do not over-saturate the soil.
Dianthus Pests and Diseases
Fortunately, pests and diseases rarely bother dianthus. They can be prone to powdery mildew if the weather is very humid and circulation around the plant is poor. To treat, apply a fungicide immediately upon noticing and repeat for up to 14 days.
Want to learn more about how to grow dianthus?
Check out this site for more information on caring for dianthus.
Here’s a site if you would like to learn more about the history of the dianthus.