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Dianthus: A Classic, Fragrant Perennial

by Amanda

Dianthus is an old garden favorite, with spicy clove fragrance and colorful notched petals, illuminating gardens since Elizabethan times.

There is a wide variety of Dianthus, also known as pinks, maiden pinks and carnations. These are similar in style to the carnations you buy in local florist shops. The main difference is they are smaller and some have different textures. From small, brilliant-hued pinks to the full-sized powder-puff carnations, they add distinct color to the garden and make for elegant arrangements.

Most dianthus bloom pink, red and white with notched petals. The low-growing varieties are great for rock gardens and the taller varieties are ideal for fragrant summer bouquets. Dianthus looks best planted in the front border of the garden, which allows their delicate blooms to be seen easily and easily accessible for cutting.

The distinct clove fragrance of Dianthus makes them unappealing to deer, squirrels and other critters. This hardy perennial multiplies each year and attracts pollinators to the garden in the summer months. Dianthus prefers full sun and well draining to dry soil. It won’t tolerate wet soil, especially in the winter months.

To care for Dianthus, we recommend spreading a thin layer of mulch to help retain moisture in areas that are extremely dry. In other cases, mulch could retain too much moisture and the plant could rot. Remove spent blooms to allow for new blooms to emerge and after there has been a hard frost in the garden, cut stems back to several inches above the ground. After three to four years in the garden, divide and re-plant your Dianthus as it multiplies in the spring.

Dianthus is a rewarding perennial to grow in the garden, creating a party for the senses from the early summer garden all the way through until frost.