Plant and care for carnations

Plant and care for carnations

Planting carnations correctly

Prepare the soil carefully so that premature carnations can quickly take root in the garden. Thorough weeding is just as important as deep raking and the removal of roots or stones. Soil additives such as compost, bark humus, leaf earth, vital lime and quartz sand (€ 14.90 at Amazon *) compensate for minor shortcomings. In the end, the substrate should be humus-free, well-drained and calcareous. This is how the planting continues:

  • Place the potted flower with the root ball in water
  • Dig small pits at a distance of 20-30 cm
  • Create a drainage on the sole with chippings, potsherds or gravel
  • Pot the soaked plant, insert in the middle up to the lower pair of leaves and water

also read

  • Many carnations have a long flowering period
  • Planting Carnations Properly - How To Proceed For A Gorgeous Bloom
  • The meaning of carnations in the language of flowers

Since the flowers do not like a moist environment, no mulch is spread on carnations (€ 213.00 at Amazon *). Inorganic mulch is only tolerated in rock gardens or gravel beds.

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Care tips

If carnations find the optimal framework conditions as a result of expert planting, care is limited to the following measures:

  • Water moderately when it is dry, without watering the flowers
  • From May to July, fertilize organically or in liquid form every 2 weeks
  • Cut dead flowers after the first bloom
  • Cut back close to the ground in spring before fresh shoots

Provide the flower with light winter protection in rough locations and in the planter. A layer of brushwood, leaves or pine fronds is possible in the bed. Wrap a large bucket with jute tape or bubble wrap. Small pots are better placed in the light, frost-free winter quarters.

Which location is suitable?

Carnations thrive in all their splendor in the sunny, warm and air-bathed location. If the soil is humus, calcareous and well-drained, the flowers will develop dense flower pads over time. On the other hand, avoid a location with partially shaded or even shady light conditions and permanently moist, nutrient-rich soil. Fungal diseases and other health problems are then inevitable.

The correct planting distance

For the multi-faceted carnation genus, no universal plant spacing can be given. Instead, the selected type of flower defines the ideal distance to the neighboring plants. For the well-known beard carnation, a distance of 30 cm applies, while the dainty Pentecostal carnation can manage 15-20 cm.

What soil does the plant need?

The majority of cloves prefer calcareous, rather poor and sandy-dry soil. Too abundant supply of nutrients affects both the abundance of flowers and the resistance to diseases and pests. The following special features must be taken into account within the wide range of categories:

  • Mustard: all varieties of this flower prefer fresh, moist, loamy soil
  • Heather carnation: the plant is the only one that does not tolerate lime, but thrives in acidic soil
  • Carthusian carnation: the flowers reach their optimum in the sandy soil of the rock garden
  • Carnation: the lush flower feels particularly comfortable in moist soil

What is the best time to plant?

Do not put the flowers outdoors until mid-May at the earliest, so that their tender shoots are not carried away prematurely by belated ground frosts. This applies equally to both pre-purchased and pre-pulled carnations. This date is also relevant for direct sowing of the biennial species and varieties.

When is the flowering time?

The central flowering period of carnations extends from June to September. If you combine the flowers with spring carnations, you can look forward to the filigree blossoms as early as April. Most species and varieties of this herbaceous plant have the potential to re-bloom. If you take the time to cut off the withered flowers after the first bloom, a second bloom will follow within a few weeks.

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Cut the cloves correctly

When the carnations have finished their first flower pile in summer, cut off the withered flowers. In this way, the plant does not invest its energy in the growth of seed heads, but instead develops a profuse re-bloom. If the plant is then allowed to reproduce on its own by seeding, leave the withered flowers in the bed. Together with the evergreen foliage, pruning close to the ground takes place in spring at the latest to make room for fresh shoots.

As a cut flower for the vase, cloves stay fresh for up to 3 weeks if you cut the stems 1-2 cm above the ground in the early morning and change the water daily.

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Watering the cloves

Carnations love an alternatingly moist substrate. This claim implies that they do not want to be bothered by drought stress or waterlogging. Therefore, always water after a thumb test when the soil has dried. In the bucket, this maintenance is required at shorter intervals than outdoors, where the natural rainfall covers a large part of the water requirement.

Fertilize the cloves properly

As a weak eater, the graceful flower rarely requires additional nutrients. Fertilize every 2 weeks in the bed from May to July with compost and in the bucket with diluted liquid fertilizer. Optionally, you can apply a slow release fertilizer for flowering plants once in early summer.


Carnations are naturally robust in winter. Since this attribute is different in the countless varieties, we recommend the following precautions for safe wintering in the bed and planter in case of doubt:

  • Before the first frost, cover flowers in the bed with coniferous twigs or leaves
  • Wrap the plant in the bucket with bubble wrap and place on wood
  • Warm the substrate with a layer of wood wool, leaves or straw

Above all, consider the threat of drought stress when there is a clear frost. If there is no snow, water the plant on frost-free days. Fertilizer is not given from August to April.

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Propagate cloves

The following two methods of propagating carnations have proven themselves excellently in the hobby garden for generations:


In summer, cut off 10 cm long, non-flowering shoots below a leaf knot. Defoliate the lower part so that at least the upper pair of leaves remains. After small seed pots (€ 14.90 at Amazon *) have been filled with peat sand or pricking soil, insert two thirds of a clove cuttings in each and water. In the half-shady, warm window seat, you can look after the young plants while they are rooting in order to plant them out next May.


In early spring or late summer, dig up the plant, divide the root ball into two or more segments with at least 2 shoots. Planted in the new location, regularly watered and pampered with compost, the flowers bloom in their usual splendor from the following season.

Carnations in the pot

In the pot, the flower captivates with its nostalgic flair on the balcony and as a houseplant on the sunny windowsill. Add a drainage under the substrate to prevent damaging waterlogging. If the earth feels dry in the morning, pour tap water at room temperature. The flower in the pot is fertilized with liquid fertilizer every 14 days from May to July. If you clean dead flower heads regularly, the flowering time will be extended by many days.

Carnations do not bloom

Do not be surprised if a sown carnation does not flower in the year of planting. Mostly it is a biennial plant. In the first season, the plant is busy developing a root system and dense foliage. Just in time for the beginning of the next growing season, you can look forward to the first flower pile.

Which are the most beautiful types of carnations?

It is not at all easy to discover the ideal carnations for your own green kingdom among the more than 27,000 enchanting varieties. Knowing the most popular types makes the agony of choice noticeably easier:

Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus): perennial, multiple inflorescences, height 40-80 cm, flowering period June to September

Whitsun carnation (Dianthus gratianopolitanus): persistent, single flowers, height 5-15 cm, flowering period May to July

Bearded carnation (Dianthus barbatus): biennial, multi-flowered, height 30-50 cm, flowering period June to August / September

Sand carnation (Dianthus arenarius): single flowers, finely feathered, height 10-20 cm, flowering time July to September

Carthusian carnation (Dianthus carthusianorum): persistent, 5-7 flowers per head, growth height 15-45 cm, flowering period June to September

Heath carnation (Dianthus deltoides): perennial, branched, bushy, height 10-40 cm, flowering period June to September

Emperor carnation (Dianthus chinensis): persistent, branched, height 30-60 cm, flowering time May to September

Spring carnation (Dianthus plumarius): cushion-forming, 1-5 flowers per stem, height of growth 20-30 cm, flowering period April to July

As Flower of the Year, the heather carnation has rightly established itself as an outstanding plant. In addition, the flowers in Germany are under nature protection. Incidentally, the well-known cloves do not belong to this genus, but belong to the myrtle family.

How do I care for carnations after flowering?

When it comes to carnations, don't be satisfied with a single pile of flowers. If you cut off the withered flower stalks in summer and apply a dose of fertilizer to the soil, a magnificent second bloom will appear within a short time. If you do not want the plant to self-sow, cut the stems again immediately after the second flowering. The evergreen foliage adorns the garden during the cold season so that it can be cut close to the ground in time for the new budding in spring.


In the labor movement, the red carnation not only serves as a distinguishing mark in Germany, but worldwide to this day. Socialist parties have been using the symbolic flower as part of their logo since the end of the 19th century. The students of the venerable University of Oxford wear a white carnation for their first exam, then pink flowers to adorn themselves with a red carnation for their final exam.

Nice varieties

  • Mash snow: charming, white-filled feather carnation with a seductive scent; Height 10-25 cm
  • Düsseldorf pride: purple blooming carnation, ideally suited for the gravel bed and grave planting; Growth height 10-20 cm
  • Nigrescens: impressive beard carnation with dark red, velvety blossom and nostalgic flair, height 35 cm
  • Whatfield Gem: white-pink double, intensely fragrant Pentecostal carnation with gray-green foliage, height 10-15 cm