Caring For Pinks and Carnations

The great genus Diafithus provides gardeners with a wonderful range oi late spring and summer flowering plants.

The main divisions are the species and their forms or hybrids. The border carnations and the border or garden pinks. The border carnations which grow about I 2 ft. tall, have been derived from the Carnation or Clove Pink. Dianthu.s caryophyllm. There are many varieties in a wide range of pinks, reds, and yellows and a number of whites. The flowers often have centres of another, deeper colour, sometimes they are (lushed or flaked. Banded or striped with another colour, often the edges of their petals are a different colour; sometimes their petals are fringed. And many of them are dcliciously fragrant: perhaps the most pleasant fragrance is the rich, heavy, spicy, old clove scent.

The garden pinks owe their origin to another species. Dianihtis plumarius. Shorter growing, these range in height from about 9 in. to 18 in. The colour range is not so wide – mainly in the pink and red range with some good whites, many of the varieties having flowers marked in one way or another with other colours. Again many of them are delieiously fragrant, some of them with the true old clove scent.

The attractive Dianthus all-woodii varieties resulted from crosses between the garden pinks and the border carnations. They range in height from about 6 in. to about 2 ft. and are available in mixed colours as well as named varieties such as the double dark red ‘Thomas’ and the double pink, crimson-centred Susan.

Apart from these there are many species and dwarf growing hybrids with single or double flowers, mainly in pinks, reds and white either without markings or marked in various ways with other colours. Some, such as the border pinks and carnations and the stronger-growing species, make fine plants for the front of beds or borders or for other places where low-growing hardy herbaceous perennials are grown. Other species and a few hybrids are excellent rock garden plants as they make compact. Low-growing clumps, flowering over a long period. All are suitable for sunny places, most of them will grow well in dryish, well-drained, soils. They have the added advantage that they like chalk or lime so that rrmny of them do quite well in the thin, poorisli soils which often overlie chalk or limestone. Because they do so well in well-drained soils, many of these outdoor pinks, carnations and diauthus also succeed in such situations as dry walls, banks and between paving stones in paths and courtyards; although their flowers may not be as good as those of plants in the better soils of the border.

Plants are usually obtained in pots and they may be planted from these at any lime (lining the spring. The soil should be well dug to lighten heavy clay soils by digging in sharp sand and peat. If the soil is not naturally chalky, a dressing of hydrated lime or crushed -chalk at 4 ounces per square yard is beneficial. Larger growing kinds such .is the border pinks and carnations should be sei out about () in. apart and well firmed. The dwarf kinds may be set a little closer than this and a good effect is obtained by planting them in group’s of three or five of the same variety 9 in. apart so that they quickly grow together to form one huge clump.

Once planted these dwarf kinds need little or no attention, except to nip off dead flower heads unless seed is being saved. If border carnations and pinks are needed only for garden displays or-for cutting, then they too may be left to grow as they will, although better Mowers are produced on pinks if the shoots are thinned in early summer to four or five on each plant. If large flowers are required, particularly for exhibition, some disbudding is necessary.

The flowering stems produce three buds at their ends, a large centre one and a smaller one on each side of it. The two side buds should be gently rubbed out or nipped out. As soon as they are large enough to handle. Any buds which are produced lower down the stem should also be removed. Feeding with weak liquid manure or a dilute proprietary fertiliser during May and June helps to produce larger. Better coloured flowers and encourages the production of plenty of’ flowering stems. After flow (-ring cut off the flower siems. Straggly plants which are producing new growth from their bases may be made more compact by cutting them back after flowering. Mulching the plants with sandy soil will often encourage roots to develop on leggy stems. :

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