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Carnations are one of the preferred cut flowers, loved for their colorful petaled flowers and exquisite fragrance.

Anyone can learn how to grow and care for carnations, and enjoy the rewards of having a garden full of these beautiful plants. 

Read on below and learn everything you need to know if you’re considering adding carnations to your garden.

About Growing Carnations

arrangement of pink and white carnations bloom blooming blossom
Photo by Pixabay on

Carnations aren’t as common to grow as they once were. Rather, many folks choose to buy them in bouquet form from florists.

However, in this guide, we teach you exactly how to grow them on your own.

Carnations are easy to grow once you have all the correct information. For starters, carnation seeds should be planted a week or two after the last frost in the spring.

They take around three weeks to germinate. After germinating, carnations take an additional month to month and a half to start blooming.

The species is self-pollinating, so they are perfect for gardens, porches, flowerbeds, indoors, and balconies alike.

Carnations are also known as clove pink. Because of the extensive cultivation of these flower plants, the exact origin is unknown for certain.

However, it’s believed that they are from the Mediterranean region. At any rate, regardless of where they came from, carnations have long been used by society for symbolic purposes.

One of the main symbolisms of carnations is eternal grief, and for that reason, they are known as death flowers.

White carnations symbolize deep sorrow, sadness, and respect. 

Quick Carnations Growing Information

How much light is needed:At least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. 
How much water is needed:Carnations need to be watered at least once a week. These plants are considered drought tolerant. 
Is it best to start with seeds or plants:Carnations can easily be started from seeds and seedlings emerge in about 20 days.
The best month to plant:In the spring, two weeks after the last frost. 
Preferred climate/temperature:Carnations grow better in cool temperatures, 50 to 65 F during the day and 40 to 50 F at night.
Is indoor or outdoor growing better:These plants can grow indoors or outdoors. You can start them indoors and then transplant them to your garden in the spring.
Do indoor plants need to be pollinated:Carnation plants self-pollinate. 
Level of difficulty to grow:Fairly easy. 
Plant height:They can grow up to 30 inches.
Time from planting to harvest:It takes carnations about 4 to 6 weeks to grow. 

Planting Carnations

a bunch of carnation flowers with green leaves growing in a pot.
Photo by Алекке Блажин on

In early spring, it will be time to plant your carnations and you’ll enjoy them all the way till the first frost.

Find below a quick step-by-step guide on how to plant carnations in your garden:

1. The first step is to prepare the soil. Make sure it’s moist but not too wet. 

2. Dig a hole and place the carnation seed in it. It has to be only ¼ of an inch deep. Cover with soil and tap firmly. 

3. Plant the seeds at least 12 inches apart. 

4. To promote moisture mist the seed occasionally. Your seeds will germinate in 2 or 3 weeks.

5. Once your carnations have grown, avoid getting moisture in the foliage when you water, which may cause fungi problems later on.  

Harvesting Carnations

unrecognized hand holding bouquet composed of red carnation flowers
Photo by Алекке Блажин on

Approximately 4 months after planting, your carnations will start producing flowers. I

f you want to cut them to take inside your home, here are five simple steps on how to harvest your carnations:

1. The right moment to harvest carnations is when the petals are half open.

2. The best time of the day to harvest them is the morning or early evening. Check first that the dew has dried. 

3. When you cut your carnations make sure to leave at least 5 nodes of the stalk. That way side development is facilitated. 

4. For the carnations you’ve picked, the process of conditioning the flowers starts. You have to recut the stem under water and put it in cool water overnight. This way the plant will get fully hydrated. 

5. The following morning you can put your flowers in a vase with water and flower preservative. They will last up to 2 weeks. 

Carnations Growing FAQs

Do Carnations Need to be Staked?

Carnations produce flowers that measure about 2 or 3 inches. These are too heavy for the stem to support and in consequence, it tends to be somewhat floppy. To help carnations grow properly, the best solution is to stake them or to use a net. There are carnation varieties that are shorter, those do not need to be staked. 

Do I Need to Prune my Carnations?

Yes. After about a month of planting, you can start pruning your carnation pants. You can use a pruning cut and leave only 5 pairs of leaves on each stem. Using this technique, new shoots will develop resulting in bushy plants. It is also important to remove the spent blooms. Diseases can appear in dying petals and spread to healthy blooms.

Can I Have Problems with my Pets if I Grow Carnations?

Carnations have a toxin that affects cats and dogs. If you have pets, make sure they stay away from your carnation plants as if some parts of the plant are ingested, it may cause skin irritation or intestinal issues. 

Suggested Reading: How to Grow Geraniums

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