Updated/Fact-Chacked on March 30, 2022 by John
It’s my humble opinion that no garden is complete without the Dianthus family. Whether you’re a fan of the green carnation, the cinnamon scented Pink or the sugary Sweet William, or some of the tiny and delicate rock garden Dianthus, there’s something for everybody in the species. And by and large, they’re easy to grow perennials that will delight for year after year.
In appearance they made small clumps, throwing out flower shoots on longer stems that should be cut back when the flower heads have faded. Foliage is silver-grey spears with very short leaves.
The flower stems carry noticeable ‘knuckles’ and if you’re cutting Dianthus to put in water, always cut the stem an inch above or below the knuckle, as the nodule itself does not take up water.
The perennial members of the family are usually grown in mixed borders or rock gardens, because they do like a bit of lime. Other things that help produce a bumper crop of flowers are good drainage, a whack of sunlight through the summer months and bonemeal top dressing. As you can guess, things they hate are wet, undrained sites, clay soils and leaf mould.
The Dianthus family, by and large, is happy with not too much feeding as long as it gets good sunlight, and overfeeding will produce masses of silvery foliage without many flowers, some varieties can also be evergreen.
If you really want a good show of Dianthus, make sure you pinch out the little buds below each major flower bud, this means the flower that goes on to open will be bigger and brighter. In addition, you will probably find you need to stake well-established plants with a short stake to keep them upright.
John Green is a 46-year-old graphic designer living in Durham. John is RHS level 3 certified and owns an allotment in Durham.