Dianthus – Hardy Pinks, Sweet William, Carnation,
The Pinks and the Sweet Williams are still one of the old-fashioned favorites for the garden. There are many species and varieties, nearly all of which make dense tufts of grass-like growth.
The Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) is gorgeous when in bloom. The early English writers used to tell us that the narrow-leaved varieties were called Sweet Johns and the broad-leaved sorts Sweet Williams. However, the sweetness and beauty of the flowers compensate for the lack of knowledge about their namesakes. The color scheme ranges from purest white to blackest red with an infinite number of variations and combinations of colors. The pink sort, known as Newport Pink, is a very desirable one with a distinct new color which florists call watermelon-pink or salmony-rose. The Sweet Williams grow from 1 foot to 1 1/2 feet tall and bloom all Summer. The flowers are arranged in large clusters of bloom and those which are ringed and spotted are very novel.
The Clove or Garden Pinks (D. plumarius) are low growing plants which bloom in early Spring. The single and double flowers have fringed or jagged petals and are very fragrant. The colors range from white to bright scarlet and are very dainty, growing above a dense tuft of gray-green, grass-like leaves.
The Chinese Pinks (D. chinensis, var Heddewigii) is a biennial; that is, the seeds must be planted every year in order to have flowers the next. They also have a wide range of color and markings and are very popular. The double forms are especially attractive and the petals are often deeply and oddly cut. These sorts lack fragrance. They bloom .later than the others and last till frost-time.
Another interesting sort with flowers much like a Carnation is D. latifolius alrococcineus, the Everblooming Sweet William, which has intense crimson, double flowers. The plants grow 18 inches tall and are constantly in bloom in Summer.
Among the dwarf varieties are found the Maiden Pink (D. deltoides), a dwarf trailer with rosy-pink or white flowers which open from, June to August.
How to use Dianthus
The Pinks are very fragrant and free bloomers. They are good for cutting, and for the rock garden, together with the drawfer sorts. All are good for edgings or to use in borders.
Where to plant Dianthus
All of the above Pinks, are of easy culture and except for the Sweet William and the Chinese Pinks, last for many years. All like a warm soil and one that will not become too wet at any time. The plants will die out quickly if the soil is not well drained. They should be divided often, else the plants will choke themselves out. The Sweet William should be treated as a biennial, sowing the seed each year. When not propagated each year the plants and flowers are not as large.
How to grow Dianthus from seed
These plants often self-sow. They are all readily propagated from seeds sown in rich soil in April or May, although good sized plants may be grown from seed sown in Midsummer. The double sorts must be propagated from cuttings if they are to come true. Layering has proven the easiest and surest way of propagating the Garden Pinks (D. plumarins).
Maiden Pink, Grass Pink, Pheasant’s Eye, Chinese Pink, Picotee,