Growing Carnations & Daisies

Growing Carnations & Daisies

Carnations, otherwise known as clove pinks (Dianthus caryophyllus) are a perennial flower in garden zones 8-10, and an annual elsewhere. They can be grown from seed either indoors or outdoors. Seeds planted indoors should be started six to eight weeks before the last frost date in your area.

Choose containers with drainage holes (seed flats work very well), fill each with potting soil, set the seeds on top, and cover lightly. Water until the soil is thoroughly moist – a mister or a spray bottle will do the trick without disturbing the newly planted seeds. Place a clear lid over the top, or use plastic wrap; the idea is to make a mini greenhouse that keeps the moisture inside.

Remove the lid or plastic when the seeds sprout Once the plants are four to five inches tall, they are ready to be hardened off and planted outdoors, 10 to twelve inches apart – provided that will be no more frost. The advantage to starting carnations indoors is that there’s a good chance that they’ll bloom the first year.

pink potted carnation indoors

To start carnations outdoors, simply plant the seeds where you’d like them to go. Barely cover the seeds, and make sure to keep the bed moist. Once the seedlings are up and doing well, thin them so that they’re ten to twelve inches apart. Like all dianthus species, carnations prefer slightly alkaline soil (pH of about 8.0), and need excellent drainage.

They do best in cool climates. It is important not to mulch the crowns. To encourage them to bloom again, remove any spent flowers, and cut them back if they get scraggly and dry in hot weather.

yellow carnation blooms

Carnations form clumps, so you’ll need to divide them every few years in order to keep them vigorous and looking their best. Carnations come in both florist and border varieties. Florist types are what you see in flower shops; they are grown commercially in greenhouses or in climates with mild winters. Border types are hardier, more compact, and both seeds and plants are readily available to the home gardener. Border varieties include Chabaud and Luminette.

The daisies you see in meadows and roadsides are oxeye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare); the daisies found in gardens are Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum), a hybrid that was originally produced in 1890. Although they are always white with a yellow center, their petals can either be single or double, and the plants themselves can either be tall or short, depending on the variety.

shasta daisy blooms

There are many varieties of Shasta daisy. Among those varieties is ”Cobham’s Gold” which has a slightly off-white shade, “Canarybird”, which is a dwarf variety with dark green foliage, and “Snow Lady”, an All-America winning dwarf that will bloom five months from seed, then blooms almost continuously.

Besides the Shasta, other varieties of daisies are the Painted, African, and Japanese Daisies. In general, most daisies only grow about one foot tall, so they are actually good candidates for indoor growing. Usually, daisies are perennials but some are biennials and some grow only for a few weeks each year. Daisies work well with other flowers in your flower garden because they are not bothered too much by frost and they don’t require pruning.

The flowering time varies by species and they can be hard to tell. You need a warm and moist area for planting daisy seeds. You do not want the seeds to get wet though, as they will not germinate properly. Plant the seeds in a small container and cover with a thin layer of sand or peat moss. Do not put the seeds in water or you will kill them. Keep the sand dry but do not keep it moist.

Once you have placed your seeds in their containers, the best time to grow them (outdoors or indoors) is between April and May. These are the best months to grow daisy flowers because the weather is not too cold. During the winter the temperature will drop, so it will be difficult for them to grow. During the summer they should be planted about three inches deep in soil. This is about the same depth as your pots. Daisies love to root and spread.

When you are looking for the proper place to plant your daisy flowers (outdoors), the best location is on top of a slope or somewhere that gets full sun every day. This will maximize the amount of sun that the daisy will receive. You want to make sure that you water them every couple of weeks or as it is important so that their roots get the moisture they need to survive. Do not fertilize your daisies too much though because it will kill them. If you plan on using fertilizer, add it about two days before the last watering so the roots will have some water left over.

daisy snow lady variety
Daisies, Snow Lady variety.

Shasta daisies should be spaced one to two feet apart. In general, they bloom for a long time in the summer, especially if they are picked and/or deadheaded. Shasta daisies are perennials that like full sun in cool climates, and part shade in hot climates. They need fertile, moist soil that is well drained, particularly in the winter. They need to be watered in very dry weather.

The tall varieties will get bushier, and less in need of staking, when their stems are pinched in the early summer. They tend to form clumps that need to be divided every few years, which means you get to have even more Shasta daisies elsewhere in your garden, or you can give the gift of perennial blooms to a friend or neighbor!

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