Carnations: Types, Meaning & Growing Tips

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Carnation flowers are symbolic of love, fascination, and distinction and are scientifically known as Dianthus. They are also known as “The Flowers of God.” So whether you love giving flowers or are an avid gardener, there’s something quite special about carnation flowers.

Below we will delve a bit deeper into the different types of carnations, symbolism, and meaning. We’ll also include some useful growing tips so that you can add some color to your garden with these flowers.

Types Of Carnations

Carnations come in a wide range of colors, and their cultivars have three different types. The three main types or categories are dwarf, spray, and large-flowered.

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Dwarf and spray flowered carnations (also referred to as mini carnations) usually display smaller blooms. They can grow between 9 to 12 inches high. Large carnations are more commonly known as the florists’ carnations. They have a singular bloom and can grow to about 18 to 24 inches high. These are the ones you’ll typically find sold as cut flowers.

There are hundreds of different carnations, but we’ll list a few of the most common ones below. Each of the following fascinating variations has its own unique characteristics. So, you can choose which would be the best fit in your garden or which color would make the perfect gift for a friend or loved one.

Carnation bouquets are a popular gift for everything from St. Patrick’s Day to Thanksgiving for centerpieces and are often paired with other types of flowers.

Common Variations

  • Dianthus Armeria: If you are looking to emphasize other flowers, you can use this soft pink carnation to make your garden look wonderful.
  • Dianthus American Pie: With its striking pink color and sturdy, this flower is very well suited for picking and displaying.
  • Dianthus Barbatus: These are best known for attracting bees, butterflies, and birds to gardens.
  • Dianthus Caryophyllus: As the most well-known variety, this is probably the first one that comes to mind when you think of carnations.
  • Dianthus Chinensis Heddewigii: Known for their black velvet coloring and white lace edges, these are also known as black and white minstrels.
  • Dianthus Deltoides: If you want to brighten up your garden with color and enjoy a lovely scent, then these are the carnations that you’ll want to grow.
  • Dianthus Grataniapolitensis: If you’re looking for great ground cover, these are the best to use.
  • Dianthus Plumarius: With its fringed petals, this carnation is unique and common to see in gardens.
  • Dianthus Pavonius: This flower has a dark pink flower and bluish-green foliage, making it a special treat if you’re looking for a variety of colors.
  • Dianthus Pinball Wizard: Loved by butterflies, these stripey, pink carnations add something unique to your garden.

Carnation Meaning

These flowers are one of the oldest cultivated flowers across the globe. As such, they have a rich history associated with symbolism, and there are several different meanings. The three most loved colors are pink, red, and white carnations.

Pink carnation flowers are known to reflect a mother’s love and gratitude. However, dark pink ones represent tenderness and are sometimes associated with the feeling of love that could bloom on a first date. Light pink carnations are the ones that most dearly express the love of a mother.

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Red carnations are most commonly associated with feelings of deep love and affection. Light red ones symbolize admiration – the lightness of their hue enunciates a softer expression of the portrayal of love. While red roses are the ultimate in romance, red carnations are great if you want to convey something a bit less serious.


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When it comes to pure love and good luck, white carnations are your best bet. White is a color of purity and luck. When gifting someone white carnations, you convey messages of good wishes for a prosperous life.

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The Symbolism Of The Carnation Flower

Believe it or not, carnations exude strong symbolism. Although these flowers could easily be taken for granted, they actually have a lot to teach us.

Carnation flowers have a different symbolic meaning in various cultures around the world.

  • Chinese culture: Carnations are typically used at weddings.
  • Rome and Greece: Carnations were used in ceremonial crowns, and the name was believed to derive from the Latin word for “wreath” or “garland.”
  • Korea: People wear pink and red carnations on Parents Day to express admiration, love, and gratitude.
  • Japanese culture: Carnation flowers are the most loved flower for Mother’s day, and the red carnation is symbolic of love.
  • American culture: Carnations are the official Mother’s Day flower and are commonly used for special occasions such as weddings for corsages and boutonnieres for proms.
  • Victorian era: The colors of the carnation symbolized an answer to a secret question. A yellow carnation was indicative of ‘no,’ and a solid color meant ‘yes, and a striped carnation communicated rejection in a diplomatic way.

Growing Tips For Carnations

Carnation flowers are known to thrive in humid environments. This means that they flourish best in moist conditions. They also grow better when placed fully in the sun with soil that is either slightly alkaline or more neutral in alkalinity.

Caring for them requires little effort, and when stems are cut, they can last for a few weeks. This is what makes them so ideal for growing and using in flower arrangements and bouquets. To make sure that they grow well, it’s best to make sure that they get about four to six hours of sunlight a day.

Take care not to overwater carnations. Watering them two to three times a week should suffice. If you notice that the petals or foliage turn yellow, you’re probably overwatering them.

If you want to try growing them from seeds, it’s best to plant them in early spring or late fall. It’s also a good idea to grow them indoors. Allow the seedlings some time to grow, and when they are around five inches tall, you can transfer them into a bed that is well prepared or into a pot.

Carnation flowers will form small side shoots (or suckers) around their stems to allow for growth from their cuttings. The best time to take cuttings is in the summer. During this time, the plant cells divide at a faster pace, which promotes root growth. You can also use peat to add more nutrients to the soil to help your carnations grow better.

Uses Of Carnations

Throughout history, there have been several uses of carnations. A common use was to brew the flowers in tea. This is thought to help reduce stress and boost energy levels. Carnation tea can also be used to treat fevers and stomach aches.

In the beauty industry, some products include carnation oil as an ingredient to help moisturize the skin. In addition to this, carnation flowers have also been used in massage oils to help soften and heal the skin while providing a calming scent.

In A Nutshell

Carnation flowers are unique and special, and they should be given credit for their rich history and symbolism. They are robust plants – making them the perfect flowers to grow in your garden. Also, they pair well with other flowers and have a pleasant, calming smell.

Whether you are a passionate gardener or simply seeking some advice on the perfect flowers to give to someone, these are an excellent choice!

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