I have a lot of post on Dianthus but have been busy with several Hibiscus projects. I promise to start posting comments and pictures as time permits. I do have several interesting Dianthus projects underway but it will be a few months before I know if I am successful.
Because of home construction last spring, I was late in planting a number Dianthus seeds including two cultivar of Dianthus caryophyllus (Carnation King of the Blacks and an unnamed multi-petal White Carnation) and a mixed collection of Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William). The two Carnations were of interest to me because, having been grown from seed, they donít carry the Carnation pollen sterility gene; I needed these Carnations, particularly the white, for future breeding experiments. I was interested in Dianthus barbatus because I have attempted to unsuccessfully clone Dianthus barbatus Green Ball (AKA Green Trick) and wanted to see what Sweet William looked like with flowers and try direct cloning from wild stock
I purchased all three sets of Dianthus seeds for a seed seller in Malaysia who unfortunately went out of business at the end of 2010. This seller had the largest collection of Dianthus seeds available on the Internet. I planted the three sets of seeds in three large ornamental pots in June and they grew slowly reaching a high of 2 to 3 inches by the fall. With the coming winter, I moved all my Dianthus pots to a sheltered location on the south side of my home where they quickly disappeared under 3 and 4 foot snow drifts for most of the winter.
When the snows finally melted, I was pleasantly surprised to find that all of the potted Dianthus, with two exceptions, had done surprisingly will. The two exceptions, my best Siberian Blues, were my fault and I suspect they failed because I transplanted them between pots, too late in the growing season and put then in too exposed a position for the winter. Needless to say, those were some of the Dianthus I most wanted but I did save the seeds which are now growing.
The attached photograph shows from left to right, King of the Blacks Carnation, multi-petal White Carnation and in the back Sweet William which is showing both green and red leaves. I had always had a mental image of Carnations being a greenhouse plant but this past winter changed my mind. I would be willing to swear that the Carnations were healthier and bigger after the snows melted.
I did learn that Carnations donít overwinter well indoors but that is another story. Has anyone had any experience with Dianthus growing under a snow cover or am I delusional? Now I must wait to see if the Carnation and Sweet William seeds perform as advertised.
At the bringing of last summer I found a pot of simple mixed color Carnations in a closeout sale. Two of the individual Carnations had white flowers, one with a single row of petals and the other with a double row of petals. I planted the colors I didnít want in the garden and put the two white Carnations in separate pots. The Carnations were just at the end of their flowing cycle and the stalks were too stiff to propagate using layering.
In the fall both plant started sending up new growth which was flexible and would lend themselves to propagation via layering. I made several dozen staples 2.5Ēx0.5Ē in size from old hangers. I dug depressions about the two mother plans and used the staples to pin the flexible stalks to the ground and then covered the depressions with dirt. When all the stalks were pined, I top dressed each pot with an extra inch of dirt. The pots were then protected for the winter as described in my last post above.
When the snows melted I found that each mother plant was surrounded with about 10 satellite plants which all appear to be growing vigorously. As I want flowers and seeds from these Carnations I will not do any additional layering until this fall, but I donít see anything to prevent me from doing propagation in the spring if I wanted to. The difficulty only occurs when the Carnations are setting flowers and the stalks become stiff. I am beginning to under stand why it is difficult but not impossible to clone cut carnations with are in the flower trade.
I have been please with the ease of propagating Carnations using layering. For a hobbyist a 10 to 1 propagation ratio is more than adequate. For those of us who are seasoned citizens, working with Dianthus in pots has some very real advantages as it allows you to conveniently access the plants.