WHY ARE THEY CALLED PINKS?
TODAYS CARNATION COMES IN MANY COLORS
ANNA MAY KINNEY
This last month has been quite a challenging one for me, trying to learn how to build a
stylish message board, a place where people can come, ask question and help others with
their gardening problems.
Finally last Wednesday it was up and running, and in no time there was my first gardening
question, Where do I go to buy carnation bulbs? Proving there really is a need
for such a place.
Carnations, or pinks (Dianthus) are perennial plants, sold and planted in the spring. They
are a bit touchy and can take a long time to grow from seed, but not impossible. If you
do, they usually do not amount to anything much till their second year.
I prefer starting my own, because from one package of mixed seeds, you will wind up with
many plants of varying colors. You will be delighted when they form large mounds of
gray-green leaves that resemble grass, covered with hundreds of fringed flowers ranging in
shades of pink, white, and red.
When choosing a place to plant your carnations, be sure to select a dry area, these
attractive plants die quickly if they have wet feet. I learned this the hard way the first
year, after making a 6ft.X6ft. raised bed, so that they would be well drained, I was
shocked when the entire area flooded the following spring.
The second area was selected with a lot more care, raised higher and filled with 2/3 rich
compost and 1/3 sand mixed into the original clay soil.
Plants come in a vast array of sizes, growing from 4 to 18 high and
spreading up to two feet across, I actually had a plant that was almost three feet long,
two feet wide and covered with over 250 open blooms at one time. What a lovely site!
Walking through the carnation area, their clove fragrance will tingle your senses;
its a scent that fills a soul with optimism. Youd be surprised that even my
dogs appreciate their delicate bouquet.
There are also long stem carnations that mostly grow in warm climates, or hot houses, I
have only grown this annual variety once, and found they were more work for far less
blooms. If you are looking a larger carnation, the kind you find in flower shops, give
this taller variety a chance, but it does need a lot more attention.
If you keep the dead heads off your bush type carnations, they will supply you with
numerous medium sized blooms for about three weeks. Even these short stem blossoms can be
tied to wire and used in a corsage, or in a flower arrangement, it only takes a bit of
Blooming early in the summer, the dark green carnation foliage remains attractive all
summer, adding color and texture to border and other low areas. Place them in front of
tall annuals or perennials; their delicate leaves can be used to cover the often-naked
looking areas some tall plants have around their base.
When cutting back carnation plants to encourage new growth, try drying some of the petals,
they add a beautiful scent to linen closets, and lingerie drawers.