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Introducing the Carnation: An Excellent Choice for Busy Gardeners

If you are looking for a low maintenance and space saving flower plant for your urban space, the carnation is an ideal candidate.  This dwarf variant grows well in containers and thrives perfectly well  in our hot tropical weather. It requires little attention except for occasional pruning and deadheading. In general, the carnation is perfect for busy home gardeners who want to add some color to their otherwise boring urban gardening space.


Starting from Seeds

Start seeds in a seed tray by sowing two seeds per compartment. Generally, the seeds will germinate in 8 -10 days from sowing. After two weeks, transfer the seedlings to a  medium-sized container.  Each pot may accommodate 2 -3 seedlings, spaced 3 – 4 inches apart.  Prune them once after a month to allow them to produce more branches.


Plant Care and Maintenance

Carnations are easy to grow and are relatively hassle free.   Give them lots of sunshine because they love basking in the sun.  Some variants can tolerate  even our extremely hot  summer in Manila.  Water deeply when the soil feels dry.

Carnations are vines so they tend to grow unwieldy. Cut back on some branches to allow them to focus on growing more flowers.  They start to produce flowers after 60- 90 days.  To fertilize, use commercial pellets rich in phosphorus and potassium to induce more flower blooms.  Generally, they are not prone to pests, so pesticides are rarely needed.

The flowers come in different colors– pink, white, and yellow are the most common. Depending on the variety,  carnations may be an annual or perennial.  This means they can continuously grow flowers for a year (annual) or more (perennial).  In the Philippines, they are more productive during the dry months from late October to early May.


Cut Flowers

Carnations are an excellent choice for cut flowers because the blooms last longer than most summer flowers.  When bundled together, they make a cheerful bouquet for the dining table.  Cut the flowers (including the stem) when they have fully blossomed.  For long lasting blooms,  dip the end of the stems in unchlorinated water.  Dissolve half a tablet of aspirin in the water to extend the life of the cut flowers.


Edible Carnation Petals

The petals of carnations are also edible. Their color provide an enticing appeal to  salads, cake decorations or cocktail drinks.  In fact, their mildly sweet taste had been known in Europe for many centuries as an additive to wine or liquor. When used for culinary purposes, pluck out the petals one-by-one and discard the middle core. Also, when used as food,  remember to apply only organic fertilizers or pesticides.

Happy Gardening!


Tags: Flowers

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