The dirt on dianthus 

Every month I try to write about a couple of different plants that can be planted at the time of writing. I hope to share some information you might not know about and give some practical advice on how to plant them. This month I’ve decided to dish the dirt (so-to-speak) on dianthus.

Dianthus (often called pinks) is a hardy cottage-garden flower ideal for planting in borders. This cheerful plant will be sure to provide you with many months of colour in your garden because, unlike many other flower varieties, you can plant it all year round. If you get your dianthus plants in the ground now they will do some nice growing through the rest of winter and be ready to flower in spring. 

In fact, two weeks ago I did just that – planted some confetti dianthus around the outside of a pot, and origami pink & white aquilegia in the middle (see picture). Come spring the pot will be a colourful and bright welcome next to my front door. 

Right, some more dirt on dianthus. It produces smaller-than-average flowers, that look like they have been cut with shears, on strong upright stems. And the flowers are fragrant and make excellent cut flowers for bright indoor arrangements. 

At Awapuni we currently have three different varieties of dianthus seedlings available – the confetti I just mentioned, blueberry and mixed. 

Confetti (pictured middle) grows to about 20cm high and produces a variety of flowers in lively colours. It’s ideal for growing in pots, hanging baskets or borders of gardens. 

Diana Blueberry (pictured bottom) grows a little bit taller to around 25cm and its flowers are a rich, violet colour. Its petal edges are jaggered – looking lacy and frilled. 

Lastly, our bundle of mixed dianthus seedlings grows to approximately 20cm and produces larger, ruffled carnation-like blooms in a vibrant mix of orange, red, pink and yellow.

Now, how to plant. To create a cottage garden feeling in your garden, I recommend planting an assortment of dianthus varieties in close proximity – at around 30cm spacings. Their dense evergreen foliage keeps bushy all year long and when planted they cover bare spots quickly. 

Dianthus cope fine with frost so you can plant them just about anywhere. Look for somewhere sunny with good drainage. Ideal companion plants to grow with dianthus are marigolds, roses, petunias, and livingstone daisies because they all like the same conditions.

Once established, dianthus are easy to maintain. They are rarely struck by pests or disease and just require a little bit of care.

In around spring, they will begin flowering and continue throughout summer. Regular trimming of the dead growth (just cut back a bit to encourage new growth) and removing the dead heads will reward you with two to three sets of blooms and encourage a denser crop of flowers. 

Lastly, on a culinary note, did you know dianthus flowers are edible? They make great decorations on cakes or bring colour to salads. And for the real dirt on dianthus? At Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding, their cake was flavoured elderflower and lemon and decorated with fresh flowers. Don’t ask how I know that. I can’t confirm these were dianthus (as a nod to Lady Di) but if it was - you heard it here first.

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