How to Grow Annual Dianthus

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These tough little plants, sometimes called pinks or Sweet William, have a spicy fragrance and little flowers that look like small versions of their fancier cousin, the carnation. Growing 1 to 2 feet tall atop light green or gray-green foliage, dianthus tolerates dry conditions well and doesn't mind poor soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost Makers
  • Fertilizers
  • Garden Spades
  • Garden Trowels
  • Plants
  • Seeds
  • Buy seedlings in very early spring. Annual dianthus comes in a range of colors from red to white to pink to lavender with various markings on the flowers.

  • Plant seeds, if that's your choice, indoors about 8 weeks before your region's last average frost date.

  • Plant seedlings outdoors in full sun to very light shade with good drainage; dianthus does best in places like rock gardens, slopes and raised beds. Plant in very early spring since dianthus does best during cool weather and fades or dies out altogether once temperatures top 80.

  • Work a spadeful or two of sand into the soil to a depth of at least 18 inches if drainage isn't excellent.

  • Trim off spent blooms to promote longer flowering.

  • Pull out plants in fall after frost kills them.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check the label or packet carefully since dianthus is available both as an annual (it grows just one year) and a perennial (returns each year). Annual dianthus, unlike the perennial version, blooms the first year and for a longer period of time over the summer.
  • In mild climates in the southern U.S. and Pacific Northwest, sow annual dianthus seeds in the fall, directly in the soil. Mulch well for winter. Come spring, you'll have established dianthus seedlings.
  • Avoid too much water or fertilizer since dianthus does best in poor, drier soil

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