The Dianthus genus is large and diverse, and includes evergreen perennials, biennials, and annuals. However, the most popular garden species is called “carnation”. That’s not because they’re all pink, but because the buds have a jagged edge, as if they’ve been trimmed with pinking shears.
Carnations have been a reliable and easy-care addition to the garden for centuries. They are hardy perennials with gray-green evergreen or semi-evergreen foliage and flowers in shades of pink, magenta, salmon pink, and white. They have fragrant single or double flowers most of the summer and most will repeat flowering once they have died. Carnations do well in cottage gardens and perennial borders. They also make good cut flowers and have a lovely clove-like scent.
The more compact alpine carnations are perfect for planting in pots, balcony boxes and hanging baskets, and also cut a fine figure in rock gardens.Also in the Dianthus family is the Sweet Williams (Dianthus barbatus), bred as a biennial for early summer flowers.Preferred by florists, the carnation is related to the rose, but lacks the carnation-like scent of a rose.How to breed pink
Grow pink in well-drained compost in full sun. Prune back after bloom to encourage a second bloom and fertilize with liquid tomato fertilizer. Cut back in autumn.
Dianthus are not long-lived plants – after a few years they become woody at the base and look quite straggly. However, they are easily propagated by cuttings, so you can create fresh plants every year.If you’re growing rosa as a cut flower, wait for the buds to open slightly before picking them – if you pick them with the buds closed, the scent won’t be as strong. They will keep for a few weeks in a cool room.