Dianthus Seeds - Sweet William & Carnation Seeds

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There are many common names for Dianthus, including Sweet William, Pinks, Maiden Pink, Gillyflower and Carnation. There is a wide range in colors, with shades of white, red, rose, dark red, lavender and pink, and a variety in form and sizes, but they are all wonderful performers and often sweetly scented. Dianthus is from the Greek words for ‘flower of the gods.’ Their history goes all the way back to Greek and Roman times, and through the centuries Dianthus made their way from Europe and then to England and finally to colonial America. Many common names were attached along the way, but Dianthus species were an important part of garden where they were not only charming, but they were also used in flavorings, wine, soups, sauces and jams.

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Dianthus plants are versatile and lend themselves to different uses. There are dwarf and mat-forming varieties that are perfect for edging along a border, as a ground cover, or grown in containers. The medium to tall varieties are great grown in a cutting garden with other annuals and perennials, or they look especially nice growing in front of a back-drop of evergreen shrubs.
Dianthus can easily be grown from seeds. For the earliest blooms, start the seeds indoors about 6 – 8 weeks before the end of frost season and plan on setting them out just before the last frost date. Use a moistened seed-starting mix in trays or pots, and press the Dianthus seeds into the soil, misting the surface to moisten the seeds. Sealing the container in a clear plastic bag is helpful in maintaining moisture. Maintain a temperature of 70°F. When sprouts are seen, remove the plastic and place the containers in a sunny, south-facing window. Water from the bottom and fertilize with water-soluble fertilizer from day 10 of seedling growth and then every 2 weeks until transplanting. Dianthus seeds for annual varieties can also be started directly outdoors in a prepared seedbed after danger of frost has passed.
Here are a few tips for growing Dianthus:

  • Dianthus plants are sun lovers and need at least 6 hours of direct sun each day. If they are grown in shade, they will have few blooms and the plants will be lanky and not as compact and well-shaped.
  • Deadhead the spent blooms to encourage re-blooming and prevent seeds from forming. Using Dianthus flowers for arrangements is a great way to promote new blooms, and the flowers have a long vase-life.
  • Many Dianthus will self-sow. Leaving a few blooms to go to seed will make an annual seem like a perennial.
  • For winter survival, lightly mulch over the roots as Dianthus plants are fairly shallow-rooted.
  • Grow Dianthus in well-drained soil, and either use a slow-release fertilizer when transplanting young plants into the bed, or use a balanced liquid fertilizer each month.
  • Give plants adequate spacing to allow for air movement. Remove any plant part with a sign of disease.
Dianthus flowers have a long history of popularity. They are loved for their ease in growing, low care requirements, and also for the wonderful variety of colors and forms. They definitely deserve some recognition!