Dianthus caryophyllus

*Looking for the perfect flower for a bouquet? Why not try carnations? They are inexpensive, last well, come in almost every color, and can be found everywhere from the grocery store to a flower shop. Carnations are amoung the most popular cut flower.



  • The carnation is native to Eurasia and means "flower of the gods."
  • The first know use of the carnation was in garlands made by Greeks and Romans.
  • The carnation was imported to the USA in 1852 by a French shipment to Long Island.
  • In the U.S. the production of canations was centered in the northeast until the middle of the 20th century.
  • One of the most popular series of all time, the Sim Series, was named after Maine breeder William Sim who first bred them in 1938.
  • Carnations are the UK's best-selling cut flower, by miles.
  • Used on mothering Sunday. In Canada you wear a red flower if your mother is alive or a white flower if your mother has died.


*Production of the Carnation moved into the west to Colorado and Southern California which have the high light that carnations need to grow best. Today most of the world production is in Bogota, Columbia, with some production still in those two western states. Additionally, carnations are produced in Israel, Kenya, and Spain.

The Meaning of the Carnation Color:

  • In general: Fascination, Women love
  • Pink carnation: I'll never forget you
  • Red carnation: My heart aches for you, Admiration
  • Purple carnation: Capriciousness
  • Solid color carnation: Yes
  • Striped carnation: No, Refusal, Sorry I can't be with you, Wish I could be with you
  • White carnation: Sweet and lovely, Innocence, Pure love, Woman's good luck gift
  • Yellow carnation: You have disappointed me, Rejection

*The most popular colors of the carnations are red, white, and pink. You also can find bicolors with differetnt colored petal edges. In addition, white flowers are often dyed to create solids like green, blue, or black.

*You also can create your own magic. Just by adding a few drops of food coloring to a glass of water, and placing the bloom in the water, you can change white flowers to orange, purple, or yellow in a day or less!



*Carnations can be propagated by planting young flowering shoots taken from the stems of mature plants or by planting terminal shoots after the flower is cut. The stem can also be bent into the ground to root. The plants need sun and well-drained soil. A rich loamy soil with some sand and a small amount of manure and leaf mold works well. Stem rots and wilt diseases can attack carnations.

*The carnation is 0.6 to 1 m (2 to 3.5 ft) tall, has a brittle, slightly branching stem, narrow opposite leaves, and large terminal double flowers, usually ruffled or toothed.



This site brought to you by:

Jennifer Edgerly for Horticulture Class 211



American Horticulture Society

The Flowers & Plants Association