Dianthus- Carnation, Pink, Sweet William

A genus of profusely flowering garden plants which may be divided into annual and biennial plants and hardy perennials.


Annuals and biennials are sold and used as bedding plants. Border carnations are used for cutting. The perennials make excellent border plants and rock plants. All species like warmth and full sun.


The soil must definitely be porous, but at the same time it must be reasonably rich. With the exception of Dianthus deltoides, all species appreciate lime.


Annual species are sown in mid spring in a cold frame. Biennial culture, as usual, starts in early summer; the young plants are transferred to their permanent position before mid autumn.

Dianthus barhatus, sweet William: Biennial, height 15-40 cm; flat umbels of flowers in a variety of colours in early to mid summer. There are also annual sweet Williams, which are sown in early spring and flower a little later than the above.

Dianthus caryophyllus, border carnations: Height 40-70 cm; single or double, fragrant flowers. Are grown as biennials, but sometimes as annuals . In the latter case they must be sown very early in the year and grown in a tall frame, where they can be protected from autumn frost.

Dianthus chinensis, Indian pink: Height 15-50 cm; flowers growing singly or in small groups, the petals being toothed or fringed and occur in a variety of colours; bluish foliage. Hybrids of which the origin is somewhat obscure are sometimes included in this species. These are the 10-15 cm bedding plants grown as annuals. ‘Brilliancy’ has lilac-red flowers; ‘Queen of Hearts’ is a scarlet Fi hybrid. Dianthus deltoides: Perennial; height 15-30 cm; small, carmine flowers with white-tipped petals from early summer to early autumn; clump-forming. Dianthus plumarius: Height 15-40 cm; flowering season summer months. ‘Duchess of Fife’, single-flowered, pink; ‘Maggie’, double, pink with a darker centre; ‘Red Riding Hood’, double red flowers; Tne’, soft pink with a red centre.

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