Carnation Plants Are Everyone's Favorite
You'll most often see the bright blooms from carnation plants in bouquets and corsages. Carnations and roses are certainly the two favorites for that purpose. Not only does the carnation give you a variety of colors to pick from, but each blossom brings with it a delightful, somewhat spicy fragrance.
A Great Cut Flower - Cut flowers from carnation plants also find their way into many floral arrangements. If you get a mixed bouquet of flowers containing some carnations, the other flowers will start to wilt, one by one. When all the others are gone, most often than not the carnations remain, and like the Energizer bunny, just keep going. As a long lasting cut flower, the carnation has few peers.
And A Symbol Of Love - Many refer to the carnation as the Dianthus, which is its scientific name. In Greek, Dainthus means the "Flowers of God". Just why this is so, is another story. The carnation plant however does have several symbolic meanings attached to it, including Mother's Love, Love, and Good Luck. A bouquet of dark red carnations, like one of red roses, is a symbol of love and admiration. Of course every St. Patrick's day you'll probably spot a green carnation or two. Some dare to infer that the blossoms have been dyed!
Nice Blooms, Strait Stems, Many Colors - Carnation plants provide blooms up to 3 inches in diameter, on long, sturdy stems. The blooms can be one of a number of colors, with pink and red the most common, followed by white, striped, and purple as the next most common. Grey-blue, purple and yellow flowers are less commonly seen. Some varieties provide single blossoms, others double, an all feature leaves that are stemless and either clawed or serrated.
Instructions for growing carnation plants, as outlined in the early 20th century (ca. 1901) Florist's Guide, make it seem like quite a formidable chore. However, one needs to keep in mind that the goal in the Guide was to provide cut flowers of superb quality for florists. You can grow carnations in your own flower garden, and with a little tender care, will have results worth bragging about. Carnation plants are not all that difficult to grow. They are fairly hardy in fact and seeds can be sown, or seedlings put out, in early spring. Very tender young plants might not withstand a late frost, but larger seedlings that have become somewhat established will usually handle a brief cold snap fairly well. Although carnation plants are not overly fussy about soil, they will do best in a sandy loam, and of course must be kept moist, especially when the plants are young.
Start From Cuttings - Most gardeners either start carnations from seeds, or purchase seedlings from plant stores. Others use cuttings from the current crop of plants. Carnations are easy to grow from cuttings. Cuttings taken from the base of the plant (suckers), the main shoots (before flower buds are evident), or the side shoots from flowering stems will work, and new plants will grow readily form any of these cuttings. Cuttings taken from the base of the plant appear to give the best results. Cuttings may be taken any time up until the winter months, placed in sand until roots appear, and then placed in pots for keeping through the winter months.
Pinch, Pinch, Pinch - During the growing season, spent blossoms should be removed. Otherwise carnation plants will stop blooming. Also, pinching and disbudding the plants during growth will foster larger plants, providing a greater profusion of fine blooms. Borrowing a book on the care of carnation plants can give you many good tips on how to get the very best results. While not difficult to grow, taking the time to a little carnation maintenance will reap big rewards, and it pays well to gain a little knowledge in this area. It's not all that different than learning the tricks and techniques for growing roses. Roses of course can be a little more complex to work with than carnations.