How to Grow Carnations

CC Flickr photo courtesy of ndrwfgg.

A carnation is a herbaceous plant that can up to 80 cm tall and come in a variety of colors. However, the wild carnation was a bright pinkish-purple color. The many colors seen today, such as red, white, yellow, and green, were developed by cultivators. The flower is about three to five centimeters in diameter. These flowers are commonly found in bouquets and the petals of the flowers look as if they have been folded in on themselves many times.

Growing Requirements for Carnations

Carnations grow best when they come from cuttings directly from other grown carnation plants. Cuttings or seedlings should be planted in the garden around April and they will bloom in full summer. The soil should have the capacity to drain well but keep the roots moist. The flowers require full sunlight for a minimum of six hours a day in order to bloom completely.

Taking Care of Carnations

Carnations need to be watered regularly but it is important to avoid overwatering because the foliage will turn a yellowish color.  The soil quality plays a big part in how well the carnation will bloom and so the plant should be given regular fertilization treatments. It is also important to pinch carnations to encourage good, healthy blooms. When it is time to pluck the carnation, make sure that about three to four nodes are left after the upper part of the stem is cut away. This will allow the flower to grow back at a later time.

History and Uses of Carnations

It is believed that wild carnations originated from the Mediterranean but that fact is up for debate due to the extensive cultivation of carnations in ancient cultures. These flowers were first used by the Greeks and Romans in garlands and other similar arrangements. Carnations are also grown as crops, even in places where they are considered to be an exotic flower such as Australia.

Each color of the carnation has a particular meaning which is why they are so sought after. Pink is said to represent a mother’s love; light red admiration; dark red deep love; white is for pure love and good luck; stripes are for regret and refusal, green is for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday; purple is for capriciousness; yellow is for disappointment and dejection. However the carnation flower in general is said to be representative to a mother’s love and a woman’s affection.

Because of this carnations are most often seen during Mother’s Day. A red carnation is worn to honor a living mother and a white carnation is worn to honor a mother who has passed away.

Diseases and Pests Common Among Carnations

Carnations are susceptible to bacterial, fungal, and viral diseases. They can also be affected by nematodes and other parasites. Keeping plants in a healthy and strong state will keep the diseases from being able to gain a steady foothold in the crops. Also, basic insecticide and fungicide treatments will help to prevent and treat problems.

Additional Information on Carnations

Additional information about carnations can be found on the following websites:

Details on basic information can be found at the Calyx Flowers website.

Details on use of Carnations as a crop can be found in this pdf.

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