Have carnations lost their fragrance?

luther_burbankJune 27, 2006

I am 71 years old. In my youth the strongest (pleasant) fragrance of any flower was that of the carnation. Modern carnations don't seem to have that fragrance; some seem to me to have no odor at all. If I were a cynic I would suspect that florists had bred the odor out of carnations for their own selfish purposes.

With age my upper frequency threshold of hearing has decreased, and it is possible that my other senses have been impaired as well. If that is not the case, however, I would like to find some heritage seeds for old fasioned carnations. I am retired and I have plenty of time to stop and smell the roses, but they don't satisfy me.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

Leigh (needless to say, I am not Luther Burbank)

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jimshy

Hi Leigh,

It does seem like many modern carnations were bred for everything but fragrance, but there are a number of varieties that are supposed to be quite fragrant. It's hard to say if it's your nose or the flower's at fault, unless you have some young whipper-snapper along with you to compare. Are there any public gardens or nurseries nearby that you could visit?

Otherwise, I would search for seed nurseries that carry fragrant varieties, plant 'em, and give them a try!

Jim

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 4:17PM
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mare2(5bSt.Louis)

I hate to encourage cynicism, but I honestly donÂt think itÂs your nose. The only plant my father ever mentioned with any fondness was a carnation he said his neighbors had that could knock your socks off from quite a distance. I donÂt think itÂs the florists who are to blame, though, but those of us in hot-summer climates with bugs who are buying the plants that look better longer.

Fortunately youÂre not alone, and as more people make it clear that weÂre willing to pay for scent, the Powers That Bee (sorry) will provide it.

So I agree with Jim about the seeds. Am pretty sure Thompson and Morgan ships just about everywhere, right? Just an idea. And please let us know if you find something you love!
'Mare

Here is a link that might be useful: Seeds

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 7:35PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I was a florist for over twenty years. It is not your imagination or your nose.

The oils that produce fragrance in flowers also cause the cut flower not to last as long or be as safely shipped.

As more and more farm/greenhouse land is sold for houses more and more cut flowers are imported from South America. There are very few carnation growers left in the USA.

Carnations (and Roses) bred for production for florists had the scent bred out of them when they bred for longer vase life and ease of being shipped long distances safely.

Now that they have achieved that goal, breeders are breeding the fragrance back in, especially to roses.

Seeking out garden or heirloom hybrids, rather than florist hybrids often gets you much more fragrance too.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2006 at 12:09PM
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luther_burbank

Thank you all for your responses. It is good to reinforce my confidence that I am not "losing it" in my senescence. If anyone has actually grown carnations with strong fragrance in the last decade I would very much like to know where the seeds came from.

Thanks,

Leigh

    Bookmark   July 4, 2006 at 12:41AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

As you age your hearing and eyesight go because of damage to the sensory orgains (scarring in the small end of the cochlea and imperfections in the cornea and retina respectively) However, your sence of smell is most often lost in the brain (although respiratory hinderance can cause problems) Eating lots of Tumeric which contains the yellow pigment curcurmen will help keep your sence of smell in place reportedly.

The trend of flowers becoming less and less fragrant shows up across the board, Sweet peas, roses, lilacs, carnations, andmany others have all lost significant amounts of fragrance.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 3:20AM
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tomahawkmick1

If you find sources for obtaining fragrant carnation seeds, please advise me also. I'm another old coot that misses the fragrance of the older breeds of flowers like the carnation and petunias. And I know my old snoot still performs well, lol. Emery/Mick

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 5:17PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I used to have lots of older customers complain about lilies, carnations and other scented flowers saying that the fragrance reminded them of funerals.

:(

I don't know anything about the seed company nor the cultivar below but it says it is very fragrant.

Here is a link that might be useful: Heirloom Carnation seeds

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 7:40PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

another seed source

Here is a link that might be useful: another one

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 7:42PM
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whizzy10_msn_com

I just received a dozen pink and white carnations for Valentines Day from my husband. While they are beautiful, I don't have high hopes to smell the same spicy smell I remember from my youth (I'm 52). I really miss that! I hope they breed it back in someday, or I may just have to eat a box of chocolates instead!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 7:40PM
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sooz

I know this is a "dated" thread, but I have to mention something about one of the links that buyorsell included to Botanical Interests.

I purchased two packages of "fragrant" sweetpea seeds from this company for this season and planted them. They're blooming now. I am so disgusted with them that my DH is going to pull them all up today.

One was Moroccan Spice, which would lead you to think they'd be fragrant, right? Nope. I didn't expect 18 inch stems, but I DID expect stems longer than 4 inches! Nope--stubby stubby stubby all around. Nothing on the package said these would be on shorter stems, or stems 6 inches. Yeah, they weren't even close 6 inches at all!

Can't recall the other name on the second package I got, but it also was advertised as fragrant also. As mentioned, I was so disappointed/disgusted I gave away the remaining seeds, cautioning people that they're pretty, stubby and won't smell.

I won't ever buy from Botanical Interests again. Evah!

Just wanted to share. Of course, YMMV.

Smiles,
Sooz

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 2:46PM
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sooz

I know this is a "dated" thread, but I have to mention something about one of the links that buyorsell included to Botanical Interests.

I purchased two packages of "fragrant" sweetpea seeds from this company for this season and planted them. They're blooming now. I am so disgusted with them that my DH is going to pull them all up today.

One was Moroccan Spice, which would lead you to think they'd be fragrant, right? Nope. I didn't expect 18 inch stems, but I DID expect stems longer than 4 inches! Nope--stubby stubby stubby all around. Nothing on the package said these would be on shorter stems, or stems 6 inches. Yeah, they weren't even close 6 inches at all!

Can't recall the other name on the second package I got, but it also was advertised as fragrant also. As mentioned, I was so disappointed/disgusted I gave away the remaining seeds, cautioning people that they're pretty, stubby and won't smell.

I won't ever buy from Botanical Interests again. Evah!

Just wanted to share. Of course, YMMV.

Smiles,
Sooz

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 2:47PM
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chenert

In response to buyorsell888, production is much much lower here because South America produces flowers much cheaper than we can...labor mostly but also no need for cooling and heating equipment as well. So they out competed us, some have turned to other higher value flowers that don't transport well for South America(they need to dehydrate them to ship and rehydrate when they get here). Also breeding for cut flowers is headed for looks not smell, the breeding for potted plants is promoting smells....as pointed out some grow non smelling plants too.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 8:05AM
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