By Charlie Allen

Plant a new species of Dianthus in your summer landscape

There are plenty of dianthus varieties ranging from the exceptional blooms of Wild carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus) to striking design of Modern Pink (Dianthus ‘Allwoodii’). They are a complimentary annual, biennial, or perennial to any garden, adding color and height with showy blooms and simple stalk structures. Dianthus is an excellent border perennial, container garden flower, entry-way planting, and may be used in flower arrangements as well.

Dianthus can reach from ten to twenty inches tall, yet some species can be over three feet tall. Dianthus grows well in zones 3 through 9. Besides the showy flowers, dianthus offers a variety of evergreen foliage such as: grass-like green, grey-green, blue-green, or blue-grey. The bloom time will vary; most will last from spring through fall.

Here a few suggestions to get Dianthus flourishing in your gardens:

Getting started with planting

Choose a sunny location in your landscape to start your dianthus garden. They grow well in light soil conditions and make sure the soils are well-drained and slightly alkaline. Provide enough spacing between each clump for additional growth. Watering should be consistent and the plants should get an adequate amount of full sun.

Starting from seed

You can sow dianthus seeds six to eight weeks before the last frost is expected. Place each seed at 1/8″ depth, in well-drained soil. You may have to wait one extra year before the dianthus bloom, but they should sprout before late spring.

Plant division

After a year you can divide the dianthus and add additional flowers to your garden. Too much mulch and not taking care to divide the plants may result in stem rot. The best time to divide established clumps of Dianthus is during the summer.

Good gardening tips

Dianthus blooms may be prolonged by deadheading spent flowers. They are susceptible to pests and diseases, watch for the following: aphids, thrips, caterpillars, rust, and virus infections. Other annuals and perennials grow well with dianthus, including false indigo, coreopsis, lavender, and foxglove. You can make a garden filled with colorful height or create a butterfly garden. There are endless possibilities towards making this artistic perennial useful in your garden.

Charlie Allen
BS Horticultural Science, NC State University
MBA, Business Administration, Methodist University
Operations Manager