Dianthus, sometimes called "pinks," are hardy plants that grow well in a variety of climates. There are more than 300 species and more than 100 hybrid cultivars in both annual and perennial categories of dianthus. Some species of perennial dianthus have evergreen foliage, so the plants are attractive even in the winter when they are not blooming. You'll find dianthus in a range of sizes, from low-growing Dianthus x hybrida "Spangled Star" at about 7 inches tall, to 24- to 30-inch tall varieties of carnations. Growing methods are similar for all dianthus.
Take cuttings of your favourite dianthus for propagation with a sharp knife. Cut the growing tips of the plants. Cuttings should be 4 to 6 inches long, depending on the variety and size of the parent plant.
Dip the cut ends of the stems into rooting hormone powder. Gently tap off excess rooting powder.
Make planting holes 1 to 2 inches deep with your finger in prepared rooting pots and slip the powdered ends of the cuttings into the holes. Press the soil firmly around the cuttings.
Keep the cuttings moist and in full sun. Transplant the rooted cuttings into the garden after they develop roots, typically in about three to four weeks.
Select a location in full sun. Prepare the soil for direct seeding in the spring, tilling to a depth of about 8 inches. Wait until the soil has warmed; plant dianthus after your last expected frost date.
Direct-sow dianthus seeds in the prepared soil by scattering the seeds and covering them lightly with finely pulverised soil, about 1/8 inch deep. Keep the soil moist.
Start dianthus seeds indoors early for earlier blooms. Plant seeds in starter trays six to eight weeks before you will transplant them into the garden. Cover the seeds with about 1/8 inch soil and keep them in a sunny window. Keep the soil moist.
Transplant dianthus from indoor starts, or thin and transplant direct-seeded dianthus plants outdoors to be about 10 to 12 inches apart. Use closer spacing for small varieties or to create bedding or mounds of colour.
Use dianthus in a cutting garden. When you snip flowers for use you are pruning the plants, which encourages them to branch out with even more flowers.
Rabbits love to nibble dianthus flowers and foliage.