Dianthus Perennials

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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The vibrant flower clusters typical of the 300 species of dianthus perennials do not bloom as long as verbena, but they try. They include carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus), pinks (D. plumarius), and Sweet Williams(D. barbatus). An especially hardy hybrid, dianthus--which means divine flower--remain in flower from late spring through the autumn. Their flowers, appealing to hummingbirds and butterflies, are sometimes scented. Larger flowered varieties do particularly well cut for indoors.

Lovers of direct sun, dianthus perennials grow from four to 36 inches tall. Most, however, range between 10 and 20 inches. Soil should drain well and be slightly alkaline (pH 6.75). Dianthus can be started from seed planted in spring or early summer. These will not usually bloom until the following year. Dianthus started from cuttings should be started in the fall, again to bloom the following year. Division also works well.

Dianthus Perennials in the Garden

Among the carnations, most are cultivated in the United States in greenhouses. In temperate zones such as California, however, Grenadins and Marguerites are found in gardens. All outdoor carnations need full sun, well-drained soil, and ample room.

The most well-known of the garden dianthus perennials is probably Sweet William, which is found wild in the Mediterranean region. Sweet William is, in fact, most often grown in the United States as a biennal. Some varieties are grown as annuals. Flowers have a sweet scent, range in color from white to red, and range in height from six to 15 inches.

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