Dianthus – In the Pink!

Bright and attractive, Dianthus are the order of the day.

There are several species of dianthus including the common carnation, sweet William or China pink and sometimes just called ‘pinks’. The reason for this is that they often come in the colour pink, and some say that because they also have frilly petals like they have been cut with pinking shears, they have the name. These days they are available in a range of bright colours from pure white to dark and moody red and all the shades and bi-colours in between.

Dianthus bedding plants can be the perfect annuals for a cottage-style garden and yet also a feature planted en masse in one colour. They also do very well in containers. Plant them close to the home to get the most of their spicy fragrance and they also make excellent cut flowers for the vase.

What they need

• These are the sunny annuals that need at least 6 hours of sun a day. Avoid planting in deep shade, they don’t do well when forming a mat and may begin to rot. Partial shade is still okay.

• They need good air circulation, so use the recommended planting distance for each variety.

• Good drainage is essential and make sure the soil is enriched with plenty of compost and a balanced slow-release fertiliser.

• Water regularly, but avoid overwatering as they tend to suffer from root rot.


• Feed every 6 – 8 weeks with a balanced slow-release fertiliser during the growing season and mulch with compost.

• Snip off the dead flowers regularly to increase blooming time, to keep the plants neat, and to stop them going to seed too quickly.


In the bedding plants selection of plants keep an eye out for:

Dianthus barbatus ‘Jolt’ – heat-tolerant with vibrant blooms and dark green foliage. Size: 50 x 35cm.

Dianthus barbatus ‘Dash’ – bright, fragrant blooms on compact plants. Size: 50 x 35cm.

Dianthus chinensis x barbatus ‘Chiba’ – early flowering, compact habit plants with strong clusters of rounded flowers. Size: 35 x 25cm.

Dianthus Facts

• Dianthus are one of the oldest cut flowers cultivated because of their long-lasting freshness and fragrance.

• It is possible that the colour pink was named after dianthus dating back to the 14th century and relating to the frilly edges of the flowers.

• Dianthus flowers are edible with a floral, clove-like taste and used often on cakes and puddings, but can also be used to garnish soups, salads and make a very pretty addition to drinks frozen in ice blocks.

• In flower lore, they symbolise affection, gratitude and admiration.

• The flowers are used as an essential oil and is considered a stress reliever with anti-inflammatory benefits.

Look out for

Centaurea cyanus ‘Ball Mix’ (cornflower) Originating as a weed that grew in cornfields, these pretty colourful annuals have made it onto the bedding plant list as an easy to grow plant for a meadow-style garden or in garden beds for cut flower use. Plant all these colours together for a sparkling display from late spring to late summer and watch the bees and butterflies come.

Brought to you by the Bedding Plant Growers Association (BPGA)

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