Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dianthus caryophyllus, Carnation

Carnations are one of those Mediterranean, French or Italian garden flowers which are no longer grown as much as as they once were . Their lax stems make them ideal window box flowers as they are able to spill over the sides of the box and fill the air with their delightful clove scent. More often than not they are tied to a stake and dis-budded to "improve" the size of the individual flowers. Though they are are best treated as annuals, they will hang on for many years as perennials , alas suffering from countless pests and diseases such as thrips, red spider, fusarium wilt, rust to name but a few of the problems encountered in growing them. The traditional Australian way to grow them, and one favoured by post war migrants, is to plant seedlings or cuttings in a 4 litre olive oil can (extra virgin preferred) which allows for enough soil depth to grow them successfully and is both decorative and a great way of recycling.They strike readily from small cuttings with a "heel" attached directly where they are to grow.
Stripey pink Carnation in full bloom and below the distinctive grey green colour of the foliage

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