How to Grow Dianthus Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Carnations

Carnations belong to the genus Dianthus and are hardy perennials.

There are many varieties of Dianthus and they bloom from the end of spring or summer depending on the species.

They carry pink, red, yellow or white flowers atop thin long stems.

Dianthus caryophyllus
Dianthus caryophyllusGaroafa by Nite Dan - Enjoypixel.

They have foliage of green or silvery blue long lance shaped leaves.

Cottage Pink leaves picture

Some of the common names for perennial Dianthus include, Carnation, Cottage pink, Indian pink and Maiden Pink.

How to Grow Dianthus

When growing outdoors, seeds of carnation should be sowed about 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 inches) apart either at the beginning of spring or the beginning of autumn.

Once sown, simple cover the seed. Dianthus prefer to grow in a sunny area of the garden that has very good drainage.

Ideally the soil should be slightly acidic to neutral (pH6 to 7) and of a rich nature.

If you plan to first grow carnations (Dianthus) indoors as seedlings before later transplanting then the process should be started about 9 or 10 weeks beforehand.

They take about two or three weeks to germinate at a temperature of 15 to 20 degrees Centigrade.

They can be transplanted out into the garden either in the autumn or before the last frost of spring.

Caring for Carnations

Although it is a perennial it is probably best to replace carnations every three years or so to maintain their beauty.

Carnations are quite easy to look after, requiring watering in prolonged dry spells and cutting back of stems once flowering has finished.

If you require more plants and don't want to grow from seeds then shoot cuttings of Dianthus can be took in the summer, or carnation plants can be divided in the spring.

Dianthus Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Carnation, Pink, Sweet William.
Family: Caryophyllaceae.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial. Hardy biennial (Sweet William). Half hardy perennial usually grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm).
Native: Mediterranean, Europe, Asia, North America.

Growing Region: Zones 2 to 10.
Flowers: Late spring and summer. Biennials may flower until the first frost.
Flower Details: Pale to dark pink; yellow, red, purple, white, yellow, green cultivars. Five petals. Frilled. Cyme. Fragrant.
Foliage: Grey-green to blue-green. Opposite.

Sow Outside: Annuals/Perennials: Cover seeds. Before last frost or in autumn. Spacing: 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm).
biennials: 1/4 inch (6mm). Late spring or early summer. Spacing: 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm).
Sow Inside:
Annuals and perennials: Germination time: one to three weeks. Temperature 60 to 70°F (15 to 21°C). Nine or ten weeks in advance. Transplant annuals outdoors after last frost. Transplant perennials outdoors after last frost or in autumn.
Biennials: Germination time: ten days to two weeks. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors after last frost or in autumn.

Requirements: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Soil pH 6 to 7.5. Rich soil. Moist soil for annuals. Provide winter mulch for biennials and perennials. Regular watering for biennials; annuals and perennials should be watered during dry spells. Deadhead annuals. Cut back perennials after flowering. Propagate: annuals and perennials: summer shoot cuttings. biennials: root cuttings.

Common Questions


How many members does the Dianthus genus have?

The Dianthus genus currently includes around 300 species.

Do members of Dianthus make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Dianthus species are excellent for gardens and landscapes thanks to their colorful and fragrant flowers.

Which Dianthus species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The most popular Dianthus species among gardeners is Dianthus caryophyllus (Carnation).

Are members of the Dianthus plant genus fragrant?

Yes, many Dianthus species are known for their spicy fragrance, particularly Dianthus caryophyllus.

What is the perfect location to grow Dianthus?

Dianthus plants prefer full sun and well-drained, slightly alkaline soil.

Is Dianthus invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

At present, Dianthus is not considered invasive in the USA.

How do I remove Dianthus plants from my garden?

Removing Dianthus involves uprooting the plant. Make sure to remove all roots to prevent regrowth.


The Dianthus genus, which includes flowers like Carnations, Sweet Williams, and Pinks, contains over 300 species native to Europe and Asia. These plants are popular for their fragrant, clove-scented flowers that come in many colors, often with contrasting rings or eyes.

To grow Dianthus, choose a sunny location with well-drained, slightly alkaline soil. These plants prefer cool spring and fall weather and often go dormant in hot summer months. Deadheading spent blooms can prolong the flowering period. Plant seeds or young plants in early spring, after the danger of frost has passed.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Dianthus. You may also enjoy the following growing guides for Dahlia and Tulip plants.