A little bit about dianthus

If you’re a frill seeker, you’ll love dianthus. Set against silvery-green foliage, dianthus are a wonderful addition to any sunny spot with their frilly, tufted white, pink, red and mauve flowers. Many dianthus boast two-coloured petals that are laced, flecked or picotee (an outer margin of another colour, usually red). One of its common names, ‘pinks’ comes from the dianthus’ ragged petal edges, which look like they were cut with pinking shears. In early summer, fragranced varieties will fill your garden with a spicy clove-like scent.

Botanical name: Dianthus

Common names: carnation, pinks

Height: 10 - 30 centimetres Width: 30 - 50 centimetres

Ideal spot: Dianthus enjoy a sunny area that's not crowded by other plants. Growing well in a range of soils, dianthus grows best in moist, humus-rich and slightly alkaline soil. Bad drainage is a dianthus’ worst enemy so ensure the soil is well-draining. Protect your dianthus from strong winds.

Where to grow dianthus? With its low-growing silvery foliage and colourful petals, dianthus make a great feature in a rock garden or at the edge of a garden bed.

When do dianthus bloom? With regular deadheading, your dianthus will flower spring, summer and autumn.


Caring tips 

How to prepare for planting?

Enrich the soil with compost or manure and a handful of blood and bone or complete fertiliser. To get your dianthus off to a great start, have a bucket of water mixed with seaweed solution and water the plant the moment you put it in. If the soil is dry, put a little water into the planting hole first so the tender young roots won’t come into contact with hot, dry soil.


To stop the centre of the clump from dying out, give your dianthus a regular liquid feed. Just before flowering, scatter mixed fertiliser around the plant or feed with a soluble plant food. Water fortnightly with a foliar fertiliser to keep it growing strongly.


Dianthus are considered an annual but if cut back after the first flowering and fed liquid soluble fertiliser, it will flower again the second year. Regularly nipping back the early-flowering stems will give you maximum blooms. If you want first-class blooms, each main stem should bear only one flower. This means the removal of all side buds, leaving only the main bud at the top of the stem. Dianthus make great cut flowers. When picking flowers, always break the stem off near the base of the plant.


Keep aphids under control with a light spray of pyrethrum.  Remove thrips-infested flowers or buds. Take off caterpillars and their egg clusters and use organic controls like Dipel or Eco-Neem. Rust can be combated with a systemic fungicide spray. Protect your dianthus from slugs and snails with a water-resistant snail bait. Make sure the bait is out reach of young children and animals. Alternatively spray the area with copper oxychloride or use a beer snail trap.


Dianthus generally tolerate very dry conditions, but will benefit from regular watering.