fell in love with carnations and need help!

carnations_new_lover(11)June 29, 2005

hey guys! i need some help... first of all i want you guys to know that i dont know anything about gardening... all i know is that you plant some seeds, water them and put them under the sun and (tadaaaaa!!!) it will grow. so i hope you guys bear with me if i ask too many questions...

last week, i was about to buy my girlfriend flowers (back then all that i know off are roses) when i saw pink flowers with lots of petals with an intricate design, after seeing the flowers all i can think off is how pretty they are and everytime i see them it reminds me of my girlfriend, whom i love very much. right there and then i knew that im in love these flowers. i quickly ask the flower seller if what kind of flower are those, and she tells me that their carnations, she even pointed a flower chart where you can see the different kinds of flower their selling (but nothing, to me seems as lovely as those pink carnations). to make a long story short, i bought the flowers, gave it to my girlfriend and further rekindled our love for each other.

after that i cant stop thinking about those flowers, so i went to a flower shop and bought a small pot, i also ask them if they have carnation seeds, which they dont... so i asked a few more shops and finally found some... my first impulse was to put soil in my pot plant the seeds, water it and put it under the sun, but after checking a few sites, i found out that its not as simple as that... so any suggestions guys? i live in asia and i dont know what my zone is... all i know is that the average temp here is about 26 deg celsius. with 23-22 being the lowest in the year(we dont have winter and spring). i also live in a city apartment so all i can use are pots.

many thanks in advance guys, any help is much appreciated.

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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Carnations are indeed lovely! Their 'official' name is Dianthus, so when you google for information, use that name. The link is to one webpage that tells about all the different varieties - I think there are more than 27,000 species but only about a dozen are commonly raised by gardeners.

I would think your zone would be okay to raise them -- the fact that you found a seed packet seems to agree :) The most difficult thing in growing dianthus is that they all want very good drainage for their root system -- sitting in soggy soil is a fast way to kill the plant. I have raised them in pots, so I know that is possible (in my zone, the clay soil and cold, wet winters do not make a good home for dianthus). Use a fairly large pot - wide but it doesn't have to be very deep since dianthus' roots are rather shallow. Go to a garden center or plant-nursery and get a bag of commercial potting soil (NOT the kind for african violets) and some vermiculite or perlite --the potting soil might already have perlite in it, if so, that's good but you should still get a little bag of vermiculite. Make sure the pot has a good drainage hole: cover the hole with a couple paper coffee filters so the soil doesn't wash out. If the soil needs it, stir in about a cup of perlite for every gallon of soil and then add the soil to the pot. Moisten the soil if it needs it (some brands come already damp, some are dry in the bag and you have to add water). Pat the surface so it's fairly level. Carefully open the seed packet and sprinkle the seeds across the soil. Some folks mix orange jell-o powder with the seeds before sprinkling - that makes it easier to see how well they are scattered. Now sprinkle the vermiculite on top of the seeds - not a whole lot, just enough to cover the seeds(yeah, it's a guess, but the seeds are pretty forgiving). Be sure your hands are dry and then pat the vermiculite very, very gently, so it's just barely pressed into the soil. Put the pot in the sun. Mist with plain water until the vermiculite is dampish - you might need to mist again every day or two. The seeds will mostly sprout within 10 days, although some varieties can take up to a month. When the sprouts are big enough to have 4 to six 'true' leaves, you can transplant them into their new home, spaced about 4 to 6" inches apart or whatever the seed-packet suggested - plants in pots can go lots closer together than plants in the garden. When the plants are about 4" tall, they will appreciate having an inch of clean sand put on top of the soil - this helps prevent crown-rot. Now they are old enough you can use a plant fertilizer - 1/4 of the strength given on the package directions- when you water the pot/s. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and enjoy the flowers when they start to bloom! Since your climate is rather evenly temperatured, you might enjoy starting a new pot once a month, so that you will always have something in bloom. Many dianthus will bloom for a couple weeks and then 'rest' before re-blooming (lots of different times for how long they rest, you'll learn from experience).

Here is a link that might be useful: about dianthus

    Bookmark   June 29, 2005 at 12:44PM
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thank you very much Meldy_nVA!!! i just both another pot again for the seeds :) am really getting hook in this... is it ok if my carnations get only 2- 3 hours of full sunlight? i live in an apartment and i cant find a place where i can put my pots so that it gets 4-5 hrs of full sunlight!

again many thanks!!!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2005 at 11:53PM
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blueheron(z6 PA)

I hate to tell you but the florist's carnations are difficult for the home gardener to grow. I'm not sure why, but I suspect it's because they're grown in greenhouse conditions which home gardeners cannot replicate.

You can grow dianthus, though, as they mentioned above. They won't be exactly like the ones you bought at the florist, though. You can do a search on carnations on this site and see what other information you get.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2005 at 6:03PM
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but i looked at the paper container of my seeds and it said 'dianthus'. it also said 'large and fragrant', dont realy know if my seeds are florist's carnations. anyway i can identify my seeds if thier florist's?

thanks again guys!!!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2005 at 10:54PM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

"Florist's" just means the type of dianthus primarily grown by nurseries so that the long-stemmed, multi-petaled blossom can be sold for flower arrangements. Lots of folks mean only that type when they say "carnation", I guess to keep them separate from the shorter varieties which are often called "pinks" [shorter and usually single-petaled],or "sweet williams" [which are usually a bit taller than pinks and come with several blossom-heads per stem]. Dianthus is the latin for this plant's genus; if one wanted to be very specific, we could say Dianthus Caryophyllaceae instead of pinks. Interestingly, the nomenclature 'carnation' is also often used to indicate the whole dianthus family and does not actually refer to any particular plant -- however, on many seed packets and among some gardeners, carnation is used to indicate the long-stemmed dianthus.

carnations new lover - please forgive me, but that is one lo-o-ong name, and I'm going to abbreviate: c-n-l. anyway, 3 hours of sunlight is not nearly enough; you can go to the expense of adding artificial light but it would be better to find a location which has natural light. Can you use your apartment's roof or set out a windowbox or is there an appropriate window in your office? While I have grown carnations in partial shade, they weren't nearly as attractive as those in full sun - and the partial shade still allowed about 6 hours of direct light.

Blueheron, your climate zone is vastly different from c-n-l's. Although I would expect you to be able to raise them as annuals or (for the hardier varieties) carefully tended perennials, just as I can. The secret seems to be to give them fantastic drainage and lots of sun. c-n-l lives in an area that is very evenly moderate-temperatured year-round.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2005 at 7:29AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Let's be honest here, folks! He wants to grow these plants, from seed, INSIDE his apartment! Though the sentiment is lovely, his chances aren't very good, are they?

That old saying..."It's the thought that counts."....is pretty meaningful in this situation, don't you think?

The advice should be to buy carnations, send carnations, but don't try to grow them in a pot in a dark apartment.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 6:10PM
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musicalmommy(Canada 3)

Oh no! The advice is this... The sentiment of growing your own carnations to bless your sweetheart is LOVELY! I hope the significance of it isn't lost on your girlfriend. Even if you have a difficult time growing the flowers, it's definitely the thought that counts this time. What will it hurt? The cost is a pack of seeds and a pot and some soil...and DEFINITELY worth the try. Good on you! What part of Asia are you in? I've lived in Asia and it is truly a paradise for flower lovers. You can have the most exotic plants with stunning blooms of a zillion colours and shapes and they last ALL YEAR LONG. Actually, the investment of flowers in Asia reaps gains that last perpetually since it never snows...so when you look at it in this way, a pack of seeds --even for flowers that aren't ideal for your zone is VERY economical. I hope this is just a start for you in loving plants. I bet you will go on to look at flowers and plants that are native to your zone. Most people in Asia live in apartments and you will find incredible "oasis" in many balconies through potted plants.

Finally, people need to realize that in Asia the sun is incredibly hot and direct and though you might not get the full amount of recommended hours of direct sunlight, the sun light is very intense and might more than make up for the lack of hours. Finally, there's lots of sunlight that is reflected off surfaces because it's so bright there. (You can fry an egg on the sidewalk) and all you might need is some sort of foil for the light to bounce off of. Finally, people in Asia (at least where I lived) walk around with UMBRELLAS to keep the SUN off their faces. That's how bright it is. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2005 at 12:56PM
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Hey thanks!!! you guys have been really helpfull!!! im from the philippines and yeah you're right, the sun here is HOT!

what i did this weekend is this, i woke up early and tried to determine exactly how many hours of sunlight my intended spot for my carnations will get (i havent planted it yet). and from the looks of it, it seems like my carnations will aproximately get 4-5 hours of full sunlight, starting from 8am to 12pm. so i think that will be fine. the reason why i havent planted is this, im worried about not getting the right kind of soil for my seeds... i cant seem to find the kind of soil that would drain well (i cant seem to find a flower shop here that sell vermiculite or perlite, any alternatives?). im not sure, but somewhere i think i read that adding sand to the pot is good? even necesary? is this true guys? what's your say on this?

one more thing... im not really expecting to grow florist-type flowers! i just wanna experience growing flowers that i like, and since this is my first time, i want to do it right. one step at a time, and enjoying every step. and with all the help im getting from you guys, i feel like im on the right track.

many thanks again guys... apreciate it very much! ill let you know how it goes and i hope you keep answering my questions!!!


    Bookmark   July 11, 2005 at 1:53AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Carnation,

Besides carnation, what does your seed packet say? Does it say Dianthus something (like Dianthus caryophyllus or Dianthus deltoides) or some kind of pinks like Cheddar Pinks or Border Pinks or something like that?

Regarding the soil, do you have any kind of a garden center that sells trees and bushes and perennials? If you do, they should have a bagged potting soil (or it may be called potting mix) which is what you would use in your pots. Just about any packaged potting mix will already have everything it needs to work well for you. If you don't have a garden center, try the garden section of Kmart or Wal-mart, or do you have any home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowes--they have garden sections too where you should be able to get everything you need.

Also, here's a link to a site where you can look up more info about 55 types of Dianthus (carnations) to see if you can find the one you have.

Good luck, and whatever happens, have fun,

Here is a link that might be useful: carnations.com - Dianthus

    Bookmark   July 11, 2005 at 3:35PM
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