Let's learn more about them.


The carnation, sometimes called clove pinks or cheddar pinks, is a species of Dianthus thought to be native to the Mediterranean region. It has been extensively cultivated over the last 2,000 years, making its exact origin unknown.

Carnations come in several different colors that in the Language of Flowers convey different meanings. Light red signifies admiration, while dark red means deep love. The white carnation symbolizes innocence, remembrance, and pure love. Pink is a symbol of a mother's love; purple means capriciousness. Yellow carnations represent disappointment or resentment. And a striped carnation of any color signals regret.

striped carnation

Types of Carnations

Because of its bright colors and wide variety, this flower is very popular. It can be grown as an annual, biennial, or perennial, and there's a variety that will fit well in every garden. These versatile plants can be used in flower beds and do well in containers. They are also popular cut flowers as they last well once cut.

Three popular types are the large-flowered carnations, spray carnations, and dwarf carnations. Large-flowered carnations, also known as florist’s carnations, have one large bloom per 18 to 24 inch tall stem.

Spray and dwarf carnations display many smaller blooms on shorter stems. These are the carnations most often found in the garden.

How to Plant

carnations in the garden

Carnations need to be planted in a location with four to six hours of sunlight per day. When planting, be sure the soil drains well, is fertile and slightly alkaline (pH 6.7-6.9). If the soil is too fertile or wet, the flowers won’t bloom properly or will discolor. Carnations grow best at temperatures of 50-65°F during the day and 40-50°F degrees at night. They like the cooler weather of early spring.

Grow Them From Seeds

Plant seeds 1/8 inch deep in a well-drained soil mix. They should be spaced at least 12 inches apart. Take care not to overwater, especially in the beginning. Seeds should be given a light watering two or three times a week. Feel the soil to be sure it has dried since the last watering. Seeds will begin to germinate in a few weeks.

Propagate From Cuttings

If you want to plant a large number of cuttings, most professional carnation growers use cuttings taken from terminal flowers, which are the ones that form at the end of the stem rather than where the stem and branch meet. Cuttings should be four to six inches long. Propagation requires them to be inserted into pure sand for 25 to 30 days before they're ready for transplanting.

carnations in a container


To revive an old plant, dig up the clump and pull apart the root segments with your hands or a garden tool. Replant these divisions in the same way you would a new perennial or annual and water well. To keep carnations healthy, divide them every two or three years.

Planting Perennial and Annual Carnations

Plant perennial carnation seeds in late fall to early spring. Plant carnation cuttings in May. Divisions should be done in the late fall.

Planting annual carnation seeds can be done two ways. Either plant the seeds in March under a shelter and transfer them to pots in the spring, or plant them directly in the ground during April or May.

red carnations

Carnations are the national flower of Spain, Monaco and Slovenia. They're edible and are good in teas and infusions. Carnations have long been popular for treating stress and urinary tract infections.

One of the easier flower varieties to care for, cut stems can last for several weeks.

purple and white carnation


If the petals or foliage begin to turn yellow, reduce watering.

To promote reblooming, remove dying blooms and leaves.

Mulching is not advised since it prevents sufficient air circulation.

Carnations aren’t usually bothered by pests which makes them a perfect choice for organic gardeners. No pesticides needed.

Allow enough circulation between plants to prevent fungus, mildew, and mold.

Tall varieties may need a support to hold up the stem as the plant matures.

Add peat if additional nutrients are needed.


snowdrops blooming in the snow

A snowdrop (Galanthus sp.) used to be considered bad luck because the flower always seemed to pop up in graveyards. Now this delicate flower, one of the first to poke through the snow in late winter, signifies hope, purity, beauty, innocence, and sympathy.

Snowdrops do best in well-drained soil in light shade that is similar to their native woodland habitat. If you are planting the bulbs in heavy soil, add a little sharp sand or grit to the planting hole to improve drainage.

snowdrops in the lawn

close up of snowdrop blooms