The Dianthus Flower

The Dianthus flower is a genus of the family Caryophyllaceae that has approximately 300 species of flowering plants native to Asia and Europe. Some species extend to Southern North Africa while D. repens can be found in arctic North America. Common names include pink, carnation and sweet William.


Description

The 300 species of dianthus flowers come in numerous colors, including purple, red, pink and red. Besides being beautiful, these plants are easy to grow. The hardest part about growing them is in fact choosing the variety, biennials, annuals and perennials. Most of them bloom during the mid-summer in the North and Midwest and during the fall in the Southern region. The majority is perennials and has opposite leaves with a strongly glaucous grey-green to blue-green color. They have five petals with a pinked of frilled margin and a pale to dark pink color. D. knappii species has yellow petals with a purple center. The perennial pinks have a strong, spicy flagrance.

Ecology

The Dianthus flower is used as food by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the Lychnis, Cabbage Moth, Large Yellow Underwing and Double-striped Pug. Three Coleophora species, C. dianthi, C. musculella and C. dianthivora feed only on Dianthus.

Etymology

The name Dianthus comes from two Greek words, anthos meaning flower and dios meaning god. The color pink may actually come from the flower’s frilled edge. The definition of the verb pink is to decorate with a punched pattern and dates from the 14th century.

How to grow

The Dianthus flower is low maintenance as it only requires rich, slightly alkaline soil, cool weather and full sun exposure. Water them once a week and add some fertilizer once a month. Dianthus flowers rarely have diseases or infections from bacteria and if they do, you can treat them with insecticides.

1. To get started, go to your local greenhouse or florist and purchase the species that you like best. You can grow the flower from a transplant or a seed.
2. Next, prepare the soils so it has a 6.75 pH balance. You can improve your soil by adding 1 inch of manure and 2 inches of compost. Turn the soil over with a shovel and smooth it with a rack. Make sure you plant the seeds somewhere with at least 4-5 hours of sun exposure.
3. Plant the seeds 1/8 inch deep and about 12 to 18 inches apart and the plants 12 to 18 inches apart from each other. Place soil over the seeds and water them daily until germination. If you plant the flowers, make sure you do not burry the stem.

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