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Carnations (Dianthus)

In 1908, Anna Jarvis chose dianthus caryophyllus (pink carnation) as the emblem of Mother’s Day, a celebration she campaigned to create that became a U.S. public holiday in 1914. Today, it is one of the most widespread public holidays. Carnations are also widely used for other celebrations and important occasions such as weddings, funerals and Velentine’s Day.

The “pink” in pink carnation actually refers to the frilled edges of the flower. Pinking shears were named after flower, as they produce a similar frilled edge on fabric. It has been suggested that the colour got it’s name from the flower, rather than the other way round.

The traditional florist carnations are grown in greenhouses. They require careful attention to ensure the long straight stems and blemish-free flowers preferred by the floral trade. In the home garden, border carnations and other compact dianthus varieties are preferred over the florist carnation as they are much hardier and easier to grow.


  • well-drained, slightly alkaline soil
  • light mulching
  • sunny position

Most varieties flower from late winter to late summer. They can be propagated from seed or cuttings.

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