Dianthus - Carnation, Dianthus, Gillyflower, Pink, Sweet William
DESCRIPTION: This group of hardy plants includes Pinks, Carnations and Sweet Williams. The Carnation is the descendent of D. Caryophyllus; it grows wild in southern Europe. D. barbatus, the Sweet William, is found wild in the Mediterranean region. The Pinks have mainly come from D. plumarius. The Chinese and Indian Pinks have come from D. chinensis and are natives of China.
Carnation - In North America, we generally think of the Carnation as the cut flowers that are produced under glass in order to sell. However, there are many garden and greenhouse varieties of this charming flower that haven't become as popular in North America as in Europe. The reason for this is because the temperatures over much of the continent are too high for them to flourish. The greenhouse Carnations that are commonly grown by gardeners and florists bloom mainly from autumn to spring, which is the time of year when they are most valued. Many kinds will only grow 2-3 feet high, while others may grow up to 5 feet. You need to know ahead how tall each variety will grow in order to provide sufficient support. The support should be set in place soon after planting so the stems will remain upright. The usual method is to attach galvanized pipe on the greenhouse bench and from these, horizontal nets of 16-gauge wire are stretched. Wires between each row along and across the bench will provide each plant with a square of the net or mesh through which it grows. As the plant grows, additional tiers of wires are installed. If only a few plants are grown in a bench or pots, there are several other ways to support them. If Carnations are wanted for cut flowers, however, a minimum of 100 plants is needed to make sure that a good vase of flowers will be cut at any one time. Carnations that are planted outdoors won't be hardy where winters are harsh. In California and other mild regions, they may be grown as perennials. The Grenadins and Marguerites are nice to grow in the garden. Grenadins usually bloom in their second summer when started from seed and they're hardy in the North as long as they have light, well-drained soil and are lightly covered with a layer of evergreen branches or salt hay during the winter. The seeds may be sown straight outside in the spring or early summer and thinned to 6-8 inches apart. Marguerites will bloom the first year from seed and are usually treated as annuals. If they are given the same care as the Grenadins, they can be perennial in the North. For early bloom, sow them in a greenhouse, 8 to 9 weeks before it's safe to plant them outside. Seeds sown directly outside about the time the trees are beginning to start into growth will flower the first summer. All outdoor Carnations need full sun and they shouldn't be crowded together or among other plants. They are great plants for seaside gardens. A variety of D. caryophyllus, the wild Clove Pink or Gillyflower, grows from 12 to 3 feet high. The plants have blue-green foliage and fragrant, semi-double rosy-purple or white flowers. They are produced abundantly throughout the fall and early winter. In its wild form, Clove Pink is very aromatic and can be used to flavor syrups, fruit cups and beverages. The more ornamental Carnations and Pinks developed by breeders have shorter stems and more petals, but lack most of the fragrance of the species.
Pinks - Pinks are lovely, fragrant flowers. There are many names with the word Pink in it, though it should be noted that these aren't true Pinks. Some are described below in the Alpine or Rock Pinks. Pinks aren't miniature Carnations, although they resemble them. The Pink is mainly a garden plant. It shouldn't grow over 18 inches. The leaves should be firm and glaucous (covered with a waxy, blue-green coating). Some varieties of Pinks have an inclination to burst their calyces, while the Allwoodii, Show and Herbertii types have non-splitting calyces. Therefore, exhibitors prefer these. Show Pinks should have round and symmetrical flowers. The edges of the petals should either be perfectly smooth or evenly serrated (saw-toothed). Serrations should be distinct and clear and should be flat in the plane of the petal. In double flowers, the inner petals should lie regularly and smoothly over the guard petals, getting smaller the closer they are to the center. Mainly, they should form a flat rosette, but where there are many petals, the center of the flower may be raised and those petals may stand up a bit. Single-flowered varieties should have five evenly shaped petals, which should overlap enough to prevent any space from appearing between them. Pinks are divided into sections or groups according to their coloring. Selfs - have one specific color except for a possible light shading at the center. Bicolors - have two colors in rings; the inner one may be either small or large. The boundary between the two colors should be distinct and clear and it is desirable that the two colors contrast with each other. Laced Pinks - there are two kinds; those with a white ground and all others, without. The lacing color should form a well-marked eye in the center of the flower, from which a narrow, even band of color should extend around the petal. Fancies - include all Pinks that aren't Selfs, Bicolors, or Laced, such as those that are speckled, or have radial strips, or have some petals of one color and others of a different color. Chinese or Indian Pinks are very pretty plants that produce large, fringed flowers of various, brilliant shades. They grow 9 to 12 inches high. Varieties of D. chinensis Heddewigii are called Japanese Pinks. They grow 8 to 9 inches high and bear tons of large, fringed flowers of various colors.
Alpine or Rock Pinks - The most popular rock garden Pink is D. gratianopolitanus, the Cheddar Pink. It is a tufted plant that grows 6 inches high and produces tons of rose colored flowers. D. arenarius, the sand loving Pink is 6 inches high and has white flowers marked with carmine or purple. D. superbus, the Fringed Pink, grows 9 to 12 inches high and bears an abundance of large, fringed, fragrant flowers in white and shades of rose. Below are some miniature Pinks that are great for the moraine or scree or rock garden: D. alpinus, the Alpine Pink, is small with comparatively large, bright, rose-colored flowers. D. neglectus has thin leaves, resembling grass, 4- to 5-inch stems and flowers in shades of rose or carmine. Dianthus Sweet Wivelsfield is a hybrid that produces beautiful, large trusses of flowers in a large range of colors; the centers are of a darker shade. It is a bushy plant, which attains a height of 12 inches. More of these pretty flowers will be mentioned below in the varieties section.
Sweet William - These are descendants of D. barbatus. The leaves are sword-shaped and they produce clusters of flowers that come in a wide range of colors.
Carnation - Greenhouse: Cuttings that have been rooted are used for cultivation in the greenhouse. Commercial growers usually plant them 3-4 inches apart in bench rows. It's better for most gardeners to pot them individually in 2 ½-inch, well-drained pots. They should have soil that is enhanced with lime and bone meal, which is added at the rate of a 4-inch pot full of each, to each bushel of screened soil. Set the newly potted plants along the greenhouse bench, pots touching and make sure that each variety is labeled correctly. The young plants should be shaded with cheesecloth or newspaper at first; 2 or 3 days after potting, they should be given full sun exposure. The temperature at night should be around 50 degrees and good ventilation should be given on sunny days, except during severe frost. Once the roots have penetrated the soil, which should be in 5-7 weeks, the plants should be repotted into 4-inch pots filled with the previously described soil. In the early stage, many plants will send up flower growths. These should be pinched out at 3 or 4 nodes from the base, never near the top. Pinch once in a while to encourage bushy growth, until mid-September. At each pinch after the first one, it's necessary to cut the growth back to a point 3 or 4 nodes below its end; otherwise, the formation of a new side growth isn't likely to be realized. In the past it was usual to set the plants from 4-inch pots into good soil in the garden and later, transfer them to the greenhouse bench or 8-inch pots in September. It has been found that Carnations can be grown with less risk of disease if they're planted in the bench straight from the 4-inch pots in May. When they're planted in the greenhouse, fresh soil that contains at least 25% decayed organic matter should be used; a bit of lime and superphosphate or bone meal should also be added to the soil before planting. Place the plants 8-10 inches apart and set them pretty high to protect them from stem rot disease. It would be beneficial to form a slight channel between the rows at planting time so that water will sink into the roots without settling on the stems. To obtain good flowers, remove all but the center bud from each stem, while they're still pretty small. Carnations quickly use up the nutrients from the soil; during sunny weather, from autumn to spring, lightly apply 5-10-5 or some other complete fertilizer every three weeks just before watering. Important ways to keep the foliage its healthy blue-green color and to prevent split calyces are: a dry and well-ventilated atmosphere without drafts, a night temperature of 45-50 degrees, and a thorough watering when the soil begins to dry.
Outdoors: Carnations aren't hardy where winters are harsh, but in mild climates they may be grown as perennials. They'll flourish in fertile, well-drained soil that contains lime. They should be planted in a sunny spot. When harvesting wild Clove Pink, pick only newly opened flowers for fresh use. If they are going to be used for flavoring, pluck off the petals and snip off the bitter white bases. For potpourris and sachets, dry with a desiccant such as silica gel to preserve the natural color of the petals.
Soil-less Culture: Hydroponic cultivation of Carnations is another method that has been adopted by some novices. A shallow tank is filled with gravel or small stones to help anchor the roots and a nutrient solution is pumped into the tank to feed the plants by subirrigation. Another way that doesn't require a tank or pump is known as Sand Culture. Fill benches or pots with sharp sand (not too fine or coarse) and feed the plants potted in it with nutrient salts in given quantities at the prescribed times. The nutrients, along with the three basic plant foods, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, include trace elements such as boron and magnesium. Soil-less culture is interesting and useful, but it requires strict care and attention according to the instructions of those who have studied the subject.
Dianthus - These plants are great for the moraine, scree or rock garden. They need full exposure to sun and gritty, sandy soil containing lime. Plant in the spring or fall.
Pinks - These plants love sunshine and the best soil for them is deep, crumbly loam. They will, however, thrive in regular garden soil. Too light or too heavy soil can be fixed by adding well-decayed farm manure, compost, or other well-decayed humus-forming material. On light soil, ground limestone at 8 oz. per square yard, will also be beneficial. Hydrated lime at 4 oz. per square yard should be mixed into heavy soil. It is smart to wait a few weeks and for rain, before setting your Pinks in soil so treated. Wood ashes are good for light soil and sand, old limestone rubble or sifted, gritty coal cinders are good for heavy soil. Make sure the soil isn't acidic, but don't overdo the liming. Pinks do better when only a modest amount is present. Pinks won't survive in saturated soil. To make certain there is enough drainage, it may be necessary to raise the beds 4 to 6 inches.
Sweet William - They should be planted 10 to 15 inches apart in regular, well-cultivated soil in a sunny spot.
Dianthus - These can be propagated by seeds or cuttings.
Carnation - Greenhouse: Carnations grown in the greenhouse can be increased by cuttings in December and January. Three-inch pieces can be taken from the base or bottom half of the stems of old plants. However, cuttings made from shoots just above the base give the best results. Fairly strong cuttings will produce heavy plants faster than stringy, short cuttings. Remove the leaves from about ¾ inch of the base, so that no leaves will be buried. Right underneath the lowest node of each cutting, make a clean cut. The long, tip leaves should be cut in half to prevent excessive wilting before roots have developed. Your cuttings will form roots in about three weeks when they're inserted in a sand propagating bed in a 40-degree temperature. If bottom heat is available, keeping the sand five degrees warmer than the atmosphere will accelerate the production of roots. Some people use a hormone preparation on the cuttings before planting, but this is unnecessary if the atmosphere is favorable for root formation. When they have formed roots, they need to be transplanted to their permanent spots. Commercial growers usually plant them 3 to 4 inches apart in bench rows, but for the home gardener, it's better to pot them individually in 2½-inch pots. From here they are attended to as described above in the potting section.
Outdoors: Seeds, which will bloom within 6-9 months, cuttings, and layering are all methods of propagation, however, seeds will not truly reproduce their parents. A substantial amount of variation will occur among the seedlings.
Pinks - Pinks can be increased by cuttings, layering, or seed. Cuttings of young shoots having three or four pairs of mature leaves may be taken from mid-May to mid-July. Pull off the lower pair of leaves and cut through with a sharp knife right below the joint. Insert the cuttings into well-packed sand in a cold frame and give them a light watering to settle them. The frame should be in a cool, shady place and be kept closed until they’ve formed roots. Seeds may be sown in pots or flats filled with well-drained sandy soil in a cold frame or greenhouse from mid-March to mid-April. When they've formed their first pair of true leaves, they are transplanted to other flats or to a bed of soil in a cold frame, 2 to 3 inches apart. When they begin to crowd each other, plant them outside, 8 to 9 inches apart, in nursery rows, 12 to 18 inches apart. Seedlings will bloom the second year after sowing.
Sweet William - Seeds are the easiest way to increase Sweet William. They are sown thinly in drills, 12 inches apart in a nursery bed or cold frame in May or June. In mild climates the plants may be transplanted in September to October form the nursery rows to the location where they will bloom the next summer. In harsh climates they should stay in the cold frame throughout the winter, protected with mats or other suitable covering on cold nights and well ventilated during mild days. When spring arrives, they are transferred to their flowering positions.
Carnation - These are some of the best modern Carnation varieties for the greenhouse: White - White Sim, George Allwood, Northland, Purity and Olivette. Pink - Pink Sim, Laddie, Donna Lee Supreme and Sidney Littlefield. Scarlet - William Sim, King Cardinal and Scarlet Pimpernel. Deep Red or Crimson - Suzanne, Mrs. C. W. Weld and Seth Parker. Yellow - King Midas, Miller's Yellow and Golden Wonder. Two-toned Varieties - Dairymaid (white with pink stripes towards the edges of the petals), Eastern Wonder (deep heliotrope shot with deep pink), Pelargonium (white with crimson-maroon blotched on each petal), Peppermint (white with red stripes), Scarlet King (bright red with white edging the petals).
Some Carnations for growing in the garden are: Border Carnations (these aren't reliably hardy where winters are harsh, but they can be grown as perennials in mild climates and some named varieties are available); Grenadins (these are hardy in the North provided they are given adequate winter protection); Marguerites (these are often treated as annuals and are discarded at the end of their first season, however, they are really perennial and are hardy in the North if given the care recommended for the Grenadins).
D. chinensis Heddewigii.
Sweet William -
D. Rainbow Loveliness
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