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Facts About Dianthus Flower Plant

Dianthus’ long-blooming, starry flowers, and lovely clover-like fragrance have made the plant a favorite among home gardeners and landscapers. But its benefits don’t stop there—it’s a hardy, resilient plant that’s a snap to maintain with just a little bit of planning.

Also called “pinks,” there are more than 300 varieties of the flower. Dianthus plants for sale can range significantly in color, size, and even the strength of their fragrance. The most common colors are lavender, pink, red, white, yellow, and bicolor. And like their shades, dianthus’ sizes vary, topping out at 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide.

Where to Plant Dianthus?

The most challenging part of growing dianthus plants is picking the right spot to plant the flower. The good news is that once you’ve chosen an area, dianthus is relatively easy to maintain. For the best results, pay close attention to sun exposure and the moistness of the soil.

Dianthus loves the sun and does best when it receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. If possible, prioritize morning sun and afternoon shade. While dianthus wants to soak up rays, the plant can become stressed during the hottest parts of summer.

If full sun isn’t available, don’t sweat it. You can plant in partial shade. The trade-off is that you’ll likely see less flowering.

Crown and root rot are common issues with dianthus, so plant your flowers in a location that drains well. Dianthus prefers slightly alkaline soil with a pH range of 5.8 to 6.2 but it is happy with a neutral pH as well. A unique characteristic of dianthus is that it will tolerate poorly aerated soils like heavy clay better than most plants.

Dianthus Care Tips

Temperature and humidity: Dianthus plants are hardy in zones 3-9, but check to see if your variety will do well at the top and bottom end of the zones.

When to plant: The ideal time to plant dianthus is in the cooler months of spring and fall. Depending on the variety, dianthus should be spaced between 6 and 18 inches apart.

When to plant: The ideal time to plant dianthus is in the cooler months of spring and fall. Depending on the variety, dianthus should be spaced between 6 and 18 inches apart.

1. Start by digging a hole that is twice the size of the root ball and as deep as the container your plant came in.
2. Take the dianthus from its container and lightly massage the root ball to loosen it. It’s okay to break a few roots while preparing the plant, but avoid damaging its large roots.
3. Place your plant in the hole and spread out the roots. Tamp down the soil to secure it and release air pockets. The plant should stand on its own and not move when watered.
4. Lightly water the base of the plant.

Sunlight: Dianthus is a sun lover and does best with at least 6 hours of sun a day. It’s also tolerant of partial shade, but you’ll see less flowering.

Water: Avoid overwatering. In hotter months, water once a week or more if the weather is especially hot or dry. Don’t water your plant if the soil is still moist. Excess water can lead to yellowing and root rot. Water the base of your plant, not the leaves, as this can cause mildew.

Fertilizer: Dianthus doesn’t require fertilizer, but you can apply a balanced feed (equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) in early spring to spur new growth and improve flowering.

Mulch: Do not mulch dianthus. The flower requires good air circulation around the stem.

Pruning: With so many varieties, pruning needs will vary by plant. If you’ve planted a perennial, deadhead spent blooms to encourage the plant to produce more buds and foliage instead of turning spent flowers into seeds. For biennials, remove dead foliage and flowers as needed.

Pruning: With so many varieties, pruning needs will vary by plant. If you’ve planted a perennial, deadhead spent blooms to encourage the plant to produce more buds and foliage instead of turning spent flowers into seeds. For biennials, remove dead foliage and flowers as needed.
At the end of the season, trim the dianthus to 1 or 2 inches above the ground. You can also leave the plant as is to add texture to your garden in the winter months.

Common problems: The dianthus flower rarely has significant issues with pests, but the plant will attract aphids, grasshoppers, slugs, snails, and sow bugs. The flower’s most common issues are rot and fungal diseases caused by overwatering or inadequate air circulation.

Toxicity: According to North Carolina State University, dianthus petals are editable when grown organically. However, the plant’s leaves can cause mild gastrointestinal distress if eaten and minor swelling and irritation if touched. Dianthus is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.

Types of Dianthus

Dianthus varieties and types are nearly limitless. We’ve highlighted some of the most popular dianthus for home gardens.

Carnations: Perhaps the best-known dianthus carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus) are widely grown cut flowers commonly used for flower arrangements, corsages, boutonnieres, and bouquets. They’re also an excellent choice for cottage gardens. Carnations are also known as pinks because their natural color spans hues of coral, pink, red, and white.

1. Plant type: Perennial
2. Hardiness: USDA zones 5-9
3. Size: 1-1.5 feet tall x 1 foot wide
4. Sunlight: Full sun for best results
5. What makes carnations unique:
        a) Rich, spicy fragrance.
        b) Long-lasting vase life.

Cheddar Pinks: This compact, low-growing variety produces an abundance of small, strongly scented rose-to-pink flowers. It’s extremely versatile and is best suited for rock gardens (and slopes), borders, and stone walls. Cheddar pinks (Dianthus gratianopolitanus) attract bees and butterflies

1. Plant type: Perennial
2. Hardiness: USDA zones 4 to 8
3. Size: 5-6 feet tall x 1 foot wide
4. Sunlight: Full sun for best results
5. What makes cheddar pinks unique:
        a) Abundant blooms
        b) Thrives in hard-to-grow areas.

Chinese Pinks: A biennial or short-lived perennial, Chinese Pinks (Dianthus chinensis) are typically grown as annuals because they tend to do poorly in hot and humid summers. They’re sought after for their abundant, colorful blooms that appear in shades of white and red, as well as bicolor combinations. They are most commonly used in containers, borders, and for garden edging.

1. Plant type: Perennial
2. Hardiness: USDA zones 6 to 9
3. Size: 6 inches to 2.6 feet tall x 6 inches to 1 foot wide
4. Sunlight: Full sun for best results
5. What makes chinese pinks unique:
        a) Plentiful blooms.
        b) Bicolor flowers.
        c) Lightly scented.

Sweet William: Dianthus barbatus is a short-lived perennial or biennial that is typically grown as an annual. Its flowers grow in round, dense clusters in a range in color from white to vibrant red and purple. It’s common for Sweet William flowers to be bicolored. Numerous cultivators are available, including dwarf and double flowered varieties.

1. Plant type: Perennial
2. Hardiness: USDA zones 3 to 9
3. Size: 1-2 feet tall x 6 inches to 1 foot wide
4. Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
5. What makes cheddar pinks unique:
        a) Plentiful blooms.
        b) Bicolor flowers.
        c) Lightly scented.

Common Questions About Dianthus Flower Plant

What is the lifespan of a dianthus flower?

While the lifespan of your dianthus blooms will depend on your variety, most emerge in the spring and will continue blooming throughout the summer season. To encourage more flowers, deadhead spent blooms as you see them.

Do dianthus come back every year?

With over 300 varieties of dianthus, it will depend on your specific variety, however, most dianthus are perennials, meaning they’ll return year after year!

Do dianthus spread?

Many varieties of dianthus can spread if not deadheaded regularly. However, if you’re looking to grow groundcover, the dianthus is a great option.

More Flowering Resources

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