If you have bought a bouquet of carnations, than you are familiar with the dianthus genus, which includes carnations, sweet williams, and cottage pinks. This genus, which is in the scientific family of Caryophyyllaceae, actually has 300 species and its name comes from the Greek words for “god” and “flower.” The plants in the dianthus genus are generally perennials, or plants that live for more than two years.
One species of the dianthus genus is the carnation, or Dianthus caryophyllus. The carnation is herbaceous, meaning it dies down to the soil at the growing season’s end, and perennial. This plant’s leaves are pale gray or bluish green, while 15 cm in length. The beautiful carnation flowers are in their original, pinkish-purple color, but now also exist in equally-lovely red, white, yellow, and green.
The carnation is the flower for people whose birthdays are in January. This flower also represents emotions, such as dark red carnations for love, white for good luck, and, in France, purple for condolences.
In the US and Canada, people give wear a carnation on Mother’s Day and at weddings. If a person wears a red carnation, it symbolizes that his or her mother is alive, while a white flower shows that she has passed away. Meanwhile, Korean parents and teachers, on their respective holidays, wear red or pink carnations from children that express gratitude and love.
Sweet william is another species of dianthus, similar to the carnation. The scientific name for sweet william is Dianthus barbatus, which is herbaceous and either lives for two years as a biennial or lives longer as a perennial. This plant grows anywhere from 30cm to 75 cm tall, having a thick cluster of 30 or more flowers.
Each flower has five petals with serrated edges and, sometimes, with two colors. For instance, the center of the flower can be red, while the outside is white, creating a wonderful pattern. Or, the flowers can be just one color, including pink and purple. Sweet williams were part of Catherine Middleton’s bridal bouquet when she married Prince William of England.
A third species of the same genus as sweet williams and carnations is cottage pink, whose scientific name is dianthus plumaris. Cottage pinks
have several other common names, such as grass pinks, old-fashioned pinks, and scotch pinks. This plant is resilient and hardy, having narrow bluish-green leaves and petals with fringed edges that look as if someone has cut them.
Cottage pinks’ aromatic flowers are one-inch long and can be a mixture of red, pink, and white colors. You may also streaks of picture shows, the flowers are gorgeous.
Whether you grow cottage pinks, sweet williams, or carnations, the flowers will make any garden spectacular. Plant carnations from seeds indoors before transplanting or directly outdoors. Space seeds one foot apart and cover them lightly with ¼ inches of soil, keeping the plants in full sun and watering regularly.
Likewise, sweet williams require lots of sunshine and regular watering. Unlike carnations, you can plant sweet williams in pots or in your garden, making sure to cover them with one-eighth inch of soil. When planting in the garden, keep flowers six inches apart, although they can handle some overcrowding. One weakness that sweet williams has is that they are prone to nematodes.
Lastly, cottage pinks can handle full or partial sunshine, as well as being planted in pots. This lesser-known species of the dianthus genus requires well-drained soil to avoid root rot. The flowers grow anywhere from six inches to one foot long.