Carnations, of the genus Dianthus, are hardy perennials, biennials and annuals, and grow in many areas of the country. This hardiness makes the flowers a popular choice for bouquets, boutonnières and home gardens. Carnations bloom in ruffled, decorative flowers of pink, red, yellow and white, and thrive best with some specific considerations.
Location and Timing
Perennial varieties of carnations require a spring or fall planting, while other varieties do best with spring plantings. Choose a part of the garden that gets full sun and complete drainage; although some carnations can tolerate shade, their growth and blooming may be restricted without full sun. Sow carnation seeds 10 to 12 inches apart to encourage lush, crowded growth and blooming. Seeds will go dormant in winter, but survive mild frosts and will bloom in spring.
Soil and Water
Carnations require deep, fertile and quick-draining soil. Amend any site with plenty of quick-draining potting soil and organic compost before planting to give carnations the nutrition they need. Carnations also flourish with well-rotted manure in their planting sites. Push the seeds 1/2 inch deep and then water them lightly. Restrict your watering to 1/2 inch of water a week for carnations, which do best in slightly dry conditions and require extensive watering only during long dry periods.
Propagation and Maintenance
Although some carnations may be perennials that rebloom every year, sowing new carnation seeds in successful sites every three years or so can supplement the existing population and increase the beauty of the site. To maintain neat, tidy carnation plots, deadhead spent blossoms after blooming and cut away any extra stems or diseased foliage. Divide carnation plants at the roots and transplant them to new sites during the plant's dormancy to propagate new plants without seeding.