The dianthus family was known as early as 300BC; Dianthus is a genus of about 300 species of flowering plants in the family Caryophyllaceae, native mainly to Europe and Asia. Common names include carnation (D. caryophyllus), pink (D. plumarius) and sweet william (D. barbatus).
Origin of name: from the Greek ‘dios’ which means divine and ‘anthos’ meaning a flower.
The species are mostly perennial herbs, a few are annual or biennial, and some are low subshrubs with woody basal stems. Most Dianthus produce richly fragrant flowers in the spring or summer, sometimes extending right up until the first frost, and most varieties will grow 18″ to 24″. The flowers have five petals, typically with a frilled or pinked margin, and are (in almost all species) pale to dark pink.
Growing Conditions: Can be grown from seed or from cuttings. If using seed, you can either use them directly, or grow them indoors and transplant later. Given that they prefer warm weather, if planting outdoors, start in spring once the weather turns a bit warm. Dianthus seeds can be started indoors around 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost is expected in case you want same year blooming. Once the seeds are sown, they should be covered lightly with soil, and planted around 10- 11 inches apart. But, you can even plant them with a bit of crowding since they look good in clumps. Do not mulch them.
Should be planted such that they receive 4-5 hours of sun a day. There should not be water-logging, so avoid too much water; so the soil should be fast-draining, fertile, and mildly alkaline (pH of approx between 6.7 – 6.8). Water them during dry periods, once or twice per week. Fertilizer should be added monthly. Once flowers have bloomed and then dried, the spent flowers should be removed, and the plant pruned to stem level.
Carnations (one of the varieties): The plants have grayish-green foliage and fragrant, semi-double rosy, purple or white flowers. There are many hybrid varieties in a variety of colours and sizes with no fragrance. They are great plants to grow in gardens and can be used as cut-flowers.
Cuttings can be taken off any carnation, but the best shoot come from cuttings off a year-old plant after it has bloomed (what helps is that this is the part of the plant where there is enough length of the stalk to form a cutting).