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Growing Dianthus

Category Flowers
Members of the carnation family, these flowers include annuals, biennials and perennials. There are several varieties of dianthus that are quite fragrant. This is a page about growing dianthus.


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By 0 found this helpful
February 22, 2006
Botanical Name: Dianthus
Life Cycle: annuals, biennials, perennials
Planting Time: spring or summer
Height: 6" to 24"
Exposure: full sun (afternoon shade in warmest climates)
Soil: dry to evenly moist, well-drained soil with a neutral to alkaline pH
Hardiness:depends on variety
Bloom Time: spring to early summer
Flower: pink, rose, red, maroon, white and bi-colors
Foliage: green
Propagation: seeds, self-sowing
Suggested Use: beds, borders, and edging; pathways, rock gardens, containers and flower boxes
Growing Hints: Buy plants or sow seeds outdoors in mid-spring, barely covering them with soil (1/4"). Space plants about 6 inches apart when seedlings reach 1 to 2 inches in height. To encourage continuous blooming, deadhead spent flowers and cut back entire plants that have stopped flowering by 2/3 to re-invigorate. If you want to encourage self-sowing, let spent flowers and fading foliage remain in garden for several weeks. Dianthuses are drought tolerant and are easily "killed with kindness" by over-watering and over-mulching.
Interesting Facts: Dianthuses are also known as "pinks" because the ragged appearance of their petals gives the impression they have been trimmed with pinking shears. Members of the carnation family, several varieties are quite fragrant, like the mat-forming cheddar pinks (D. gratianopolitanus).
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By 2 found this helpful
June 14, 2016

I started about 10 plants from seed in August. Then in September, I planted them, they didn't flower yet. This spring 50 plants came up. They are just beautiful. This was a nice filler for a big empty spot.


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By 0 found this helpful
April 26, 2006

When shopping for perennial bedding plants this year, you can expect to see a lot of plant labels marked 'Cheddar Pink'. That's because the Perennial Plant Association awarded Dianthus gratianopolitanus (also known as 'Feuerhexe' or 'Firewitch') the 2006 Perennial Plant of the Year. If you've grown cheddar pinks before, then you know what all of the fuss is about. If you haven't, give them a try.


How to Win a Perennial Pageant

The Perennial Plant Association is a professional trade association dedicated to improving the perennial plant industry through education and by promoting the use of perennial plants. One way they do this is through their Perennial Plant of the Year program. Each year a committee narrows down an extensive list of plant nominations made by PPA members. To be considered, each plant must meet the following criteria:

  1. They are suitable for a wide range of climate types.
  2. They require low maintenance.
  3. True plants are propagated easily from seed or by vegetative means.
  4. The plants exhibit interest throughout multiple seasons.

Members cast votes for one of the final four perennial contenders and ta da! the lucky winner is selected.

What Makes This Pink So Special

Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Firewitch' is a low growing, mat-forming alpine plant with a striking color combination of silvery, blue-gray foliage and brilliant purplish-pink flowers that look as though they've been trimmed with a pinking sheers. As the plant matures, the height of the foliage will reach 3 to 4 inches, with flower stalks reaching 6 to 8 inches high.


Like other Cheddar Pinks, the Firewitch comes into its peak bloom with relatively long- lasting flowers in mid to late spring. If the spent flowers are trimmed back after the first bloom, it can reward you with a second (even third) round of flowers again in the summer and into fall. The flowers also give off a spicy scent reminiscent of cloves, which makes it great along walkways and paths where passersby can brush against its fragrant blossoms.

Growing Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Firewitch'

Hardiness: grows well in Hardiness zones 3-9

Light: full sun (light shade in extremely hot climates)


Soil: well-drained, nutrient-rich soil with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH

Height: foliage 3 to 4 inches; flower stems up to 8 inches

Bloom Time: mid to late spring and again in summer and fall if spent flowers are removed

Flower: hot purplish-pink

Foliage: bluish-gray, remaining evergreen

Growing Hints: Plant Firewitch in full sun (or partial shade in extremely hot climates) in well-drained soil. Do not mulch with deep layers of organic matter. In climates with heavy-rainfall, mulch with pea stones or gravel to keep foliage dry. Cut back spent flowers in late spring to promote additional blooms for summer.

Propagation: Cultivars are propagated most easily by division before or immediately after flowering. They can also be propagated by tip or heel cuttings, seeds, or layering.

Suggested Uses: Great for borders, edgings, pathways, rock gardens, and ground covers for slopes or for plantings in wall crevices.

Interesting Fact: Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Feurehexe' was first introduced by the Kayser & Seibert Nursery of Germany in 1957. It went largely unknown in North American nurseries until 1987, when it was discovered by Pierre Bennerup of Sunny Border Nurseries, Inc. in Connecticut. He saw two plants in bloom at a nursery in the Netherlands while on a perennial plant tour and decided to bring them back to the United States and propagate them. Since then, thousands have been sold in the United States.

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By 0 found this helpful
May 12, 2008

Is it necessary to dead head dianthus?

Hardiness Zone: 8a

Holly from Richardson, TX


May 14, 20080 found this helpful

Hi Holly,

The short answer is ... Yes, they should be deadheaded.

Here's some additional maintenance info for you. I hope it's helpful.


Dianthus Maintenance: Do not mulch all the way around the Dianthus or you will encourage stem rot. Clumps can be divided every 2 or 3 years to encourage better flower production. Snipping blooms off for cut flower arrangements, or deadheading faded blooms will encourage better flower production.

Good Luck!

Zone 5 MA

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By Lynda (Guest Post)
May 16, 20080 found this helpful

I live i N. Texas. I was told a year or two ago that Dianthus is mostly like an annual in our area, which explains why I couldn't get it to survive or return the next year. I love them, but if they don't return, they can't

I've discovered that native plants and grasses are the better choices, along with . If I have the seed I plant bloomers in large pots and take them inside in winter to try to get them to survive. Geranium is a good one, ground covers have blooms, Iris comes in wonderful TRIcolor blooms and need so little care, although short bloomers;
Honeysuckle and Asian/Carolina Jasmine do very well in ordinary soils and little to no care other than annual trimming.

My yard is truly organic, and plants seem to love it so much that it's overgrown with foliage, wild in a few areas. However, what grows is either a native, bloomer or is edible for the most part, with fragrant trees such as Chinese Privet, Bradford Pear, Crepe Myrtle, Cherry Laurel, even dwarf mature boxwood. All do well in Texas if not overwatered.

I encourage low maintenance plants, like Autuum Joy
Sedum, Varigated Lirope, lillies, Varigated Vinca Major, Dwarf Monkey Grass, Autumn and Texas Sages, Mexican Petunia, Lemon Balm, Rubra Basil, Eleagnus, Clearya shrubs and many more indiginous to Texas. Tarragon is a bit rampant, as is the Lemon Balm, but Comfry stays wiithin it's boundaries.

I have wild wood violets(like lettuce), and common clover(try it if you like lemon flavor), that are edible, along with wild raspberries and Elephant Garlic that return faithfully with the the Apple, and Plum trees. I grow dandelion greens, Cilantro, and Parsley for my house Bunnies. Tomatoes grow and bloom for some folks, but not me. I have learned to love the blooms on all native plants and not spend so much time on things like Dianthus that just rots quickly in the rainy season, and for most folks who keep flowerbeds enriched. Pots might work much better. Good luck and God bless and help you. : )

Hope something here helps? Good luck and God bless. : )

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By Carol in PA (Guest Post)
May 16, 20080 found this helpful

imho, no flowering plant HAS to be deadheaded. You deadhead when you want it to make more flowers. Some plants will rebloom and others only bloom once per growing season.

I know that the groundcover known as pinks is related to dianthus. Some dianthus go by the common name of carnation. If you run the lawnmower over pinks, they rebloom. Hope this is of some help in answering your question.

good luck

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