Harvest Plant Or Swap Carnation Seeds
Most of the time when we have a packet of carnation seeds we plant them. Carnations, or Pinks as they are sometimes called, are easy flowers to grow. You can usually choose from among several hundred available types, and most varieties will reward you not only with beautiful flowers, but a nice spicy fragrance to boot. By saying most of the varieties, implies that all carnations do not have the familiar spicy scent. It's true that some hybrids do not; the scent has basically been engineered out of them, not usually on purpose of course. Most do smell good however.
Planting carnations seeds in your garden not only makes your garden all that much more attractive but gives you one of the best cut flowers you can grow. Put a freshly cut carnation in a vase (with water of course) and you can expect it to last for 2 weeks and sometimes for 3. Carnations are great in mixed bouquets and of course are famous for their use in corsages, or as boutonniere. Most of the time we buy packets of carnations seeds in nurseries or plant stores, which usually have a very good variety to choose from, so you can change what you plant every year unless you settle on one or two colors or varieties that you like above all others.
If you happen to like what you are presently growing you can collect or harvest your own carnations seeds for next year's flowers. It might be worth your while to check and see if the variety you have is a hybrid or not and if so, if the seeds you save will germinate and give you the right color or type of blossom. Sometimes when dealing with hybrids its best to propagate from cuttings or division, but for most types of carnations you are apt to encounter, the seeds will probably work fine.
Swapping The Seeds - If you get into the habit of harvesting carnation seeds, or any seeds for that matter, you can always become involved with a seed swap. Here you send your seeds into the seed swap headquarters and get different seeds in return. Rules may vary, and you may or may not be able to get specific seeds, a special variety of carnation seeds for example. But it's worth a try and lots of fun. You may get a variety of carnation you are extremely please with for the cost of a postage stamp!
Harvesting The Seeds - Mark one or more plants, at least one for each different variety, that you intend to harvest seeds from. A small stake by a plant will remind you not to deadhead all of the spent flowers, but save some so that seed pods can develop. Marking the plants also allows you to keep carnation seeds from different varieties separate. This is especially important in a seed swap, as the recipient of your seeds might like to know what type is in your packet unless it is supposed to be a mix. Seeds are harvested simply by rubbing the dead flower heads between your fingers and letting the tiny seeds fall into whatever you are collecting them with.
Planting The Seeds - As far as planting carnation seeds is concerned, the fact that carnations readily re seed themselves implies that you don't have to plant the seeds particularly deep. A depth of 1/4" is about maximum, and shallower is even better. The seeds need light to germinate, so you don't want to "bury" them. You can sow carnation seeds in the early spring, just a couple of weeks before the last frost, or start them even earlier indoors, transplanting when the seedlings are about 3" high.
Carnations are a joy to have, and planting, harvesting, and swapping the carnation seeds just adds to the enjoyment.