Dianthus (Sweet William, Carnation) – Dianthus plants are popular with gardeners and have been grown for centuries. A cottage garden is not complete without several dianthus. All are heat tolerant and low maintenance beauties. Dianthus have become popular garden plants, but are also well suited as balcony or patio pot plants.

You may occasionally find pots of dianthus for sale in the house plant section of a garden center. You will not, however, find them in most textbooks – pinks and annual carnations are not accepted as house plants. They do need cool conditions and are not always long-lasting, but they are easily raised from seed and the white, pink or red frilly-edged blooms are attractive. Give them a well-lit spot and do not let the compost dry out. Provide fresh air on hot days.


Numerous cultivars have been raised, and these are separated into two groups: annual bedding dianthus and perennial dianthus, the latter group being further divided into border carnations, perpetual-flowering carnations, and pinks. They are commonly known as pinks, which rather than alluding to the predominant flower color, refers to their zigzag-edged petals, which appear to have been trimmed with pinking shears.

To grow dianthus plants in pots, choose a spot where the plant can get full sun for about 4–5 hours daily. If you find it difficult to match that requirement, dianthus will also tolerate part shade, but it will not grow as well, and the flowers and plant as a whole may not be as lush. To care for dianthus plants in pots make sure that the climate is cool, and that there is good air circulation at all times especially around the stems.


Secrets of success

Temperature: Cool – 50° to 60°F is ideal.

Light: Bright light is essential, but shade from midday sun.

Water: Keep compost moist at all times.


Soil: Use slightly alkaline soil. The soil should drain well.

Fertilizer: Apply fertilizer every 6 to 8 weeks. Alternatively, you can add a slow release fertilizer into the soil when planting the pinks.

Care after flowering: Dianthus should be discarded.


Dianthus chinensis (Baby Doll)


Dianthus ‘Rainbow Loveliness Improved Mixed’


Dianthus caryophyllus has blooms which are larger and double