A wonderful plant found in many hierloom gardens, Dianthus have been a favorite of gardeners for generations. Easy to grow and wonderfully colored, it is no wonder to find them a part of so many gardens. With over 300 species and hundreds of hybridized cultivars for garden use, classification can be a bit confusing.
Plant Highlight: Dianthus This article will focus on perennial dianthus, rather than the biennenial "Sweet Williams" D. barbatus. Often called Pinks or Cottage Pinks these beautiful plants are in the same genus as carnations. Common/Botanical Name: Dianthus Hardiness Zones: Dianthus are hardy and grow in a wide variety of garden climates from zone 3 to 9. Bloom Time & Color: Dianthus have single or double blooms that can last through spring, summer and fall. Most Dianthus have pink blooms with white, red or cream colored accents and are fragrant. Plant Category: Perennial Dianthus are often evergreen or semi-evergreen. Foliage: Dark green foliage that stays evergreen throughout the winter months in most areas. Fine-textured foliage combines well with other plants and add interest to a mixed border. Growth Habit: Dianthus form bushy, compact clumps that look great planting in a mass. Well-behaved in the garden. Dimensions: Dianthus can grow anywhere between 6"-36" tall and wide. See specific species and cultivars at the bottom of this article for details. Preferred Conditions: Clay or sandy soil doesn't matter as long as it is well-drained. Full sun is preferred but will tolerate part shade though the blooms might not be as prolific. Maintenance: Do not mulch all the way around the Dianthus or you will encourage stem rot. Clumps can be divided every 2 or 3 years to encourage better flower production. Snipping blooms off for cut flower arrangements, or deadheading faded blooms will encourage better flower production. Pests or Diseases: Dianthus can be susceptible to stem rot if the soil is not well drained, or if the mulch covers the plant. Propagation Methods: Cuttings can be taken in the summer, or established clumps can be divided. Companion Plants: Dianthus are an heirloom, cottage border plant so combine with other similar plants such as False indigo,, Coreopsis,,or other Dianthus varieties. They also combine well with other scented and fragrant plants such as Lavender or Roses. Dianthus are also popular cut flowers as are Allium, Echinacea, or Delphinium in a cut flower border. Butterflies are attracted to Dianthus as well as Asters and Foxglove. Seasons of Interest: Evergreen foliage keeps the Dianthus interesting year-round and the long flowering season means the plant provides bright colors in spring, summer and fall. Uses in the Garden: Dianthus are very versatile plants that are used in containers, mixed borders, entry way beds, cut flower gardens, scented gardens, butterfly gardens and cottage or heirloom gardens. Other Uses: Dianthus make great cut flowers and also hold their color when pressed making them useful for press flowered crafts and arrangements. Varieties and Cultivars: The Dianthus Star Series are a rather recent introduction from Whetman and Son and are improved forms of alpine Dianthus giving them compact, mounding foliage and a vigor that is unsurpassed by other Dianthus offerings. Dianthus x hybrida 'Eastern Star': This amazing beauty has gorgeous foliage, and even better looking blooms. A prolific bloomer, each plant will be covered with ruby pink petals accented with darker maroon centers. Eastern Star is a bit taller than some of these others at 10" x 12". Hardy zones 3-9 For more info on purchasing this item click here. Dianthus x hybrida 'Neon Star': Blue-green compact foliage makes a great foil for the magenta, eye-catching flowers that cover this Star series beauty for weeks on end. Growing 8" x 12" this Dianthus is hardy in zones 3-8. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Dianthus x hybrida 'Spangled Star': A beautifully colored cultivar that has bright pink petals with light pink accents. Not technically part of the Whetman Star Series, this Clock series hybrid Dianthus has the same alpine roots, and was also developed in their breeding program. A great size at 7" x 12" making it fantastic in container plantings or near the front of the border. Hardy zones 5-9. For more info on purchasing this item click here. This 'Plant Highlight' was written exclusively for Sooner Plant Farm by Angela England .To read more from this talented writer about other highlighted plants and interesting gardening stories click here. All copyrights reserved by Sooner Plant Farm. No reproduction of this article in whole or in part is allowed without the permission of Sooner Plant Farm.