Carnation or "Clove Pink" (Dianthus x caryophyllus)
I have always always loved the smell of carnations. It's no surprise to me that they are also called "clove pinks" because their scent is spicy and sweet like the culinary spice. It's a distinctive smell that you never quite forget, and because of it's use in bouquets and corsages, one that I associate with many happy memories.
As a new gardener, years ago, I was thrilled to find that many types of pinks (Dianthus) grow well in the garden, including my favorite, the carnation, or "clove pink" (Dianthus x caryophyllus). They are most commonly seen in shades of red, pink and white, but yellow varieties have been bred over the years. The blooms float above the tuft of the plant on long stalks, and as an extra bonus the blue-green foliage is evergreen.
I haven't had any in my garden for a few years, but I couldn't resist adding them to my pots for the summer. In fall, I'll transplant them to a permanent spot tucked in front of one of the perennial borders.
Latin Name: Dianthus x caryophyllus
Common Name: Carnation or "Clove Pink"
USDA Zone: 6-9
Bloom Time: Late Spring through mid-Summer
Bloom Color: Shades of red, pink, white and pale yellow
Foliage: Evergreen, blue-green (glaucous)
Exposure: Full sun
Water: Average water needs, do not overwater
Carnation petals are edible and have been used in salads, teas, syrups and to make essential oils for perfume. However, carnations are toxic to some animals. (Don't let the pets eat the carnations!). If you are interested in edible flowers, North Carolina State's Extension Office has a great webpage on edible flowers. (Thank you, reader Merideth for a great link!).
In my experience, these plants can be somewhat short lived, and definitely do not like to be soggy. But they're worth it for their long bloom time, evergreen foliage and that wonderful clove scent. I have not tried collecting seeds, but I have wanted to try that. Then you could be assured of an endless supply of pretty clove pinks.
Do you have any carnations growing in your garden?