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The perennial, rarely one- or two-year-old herbaceous plants usually grow horstig-upright or form flat pads. Their simple or branched stems are edgy or round. The opposite leaves are simple, the narrow leaf blade is lanceolate to ovate. The flowers are alone or several together in terminal inflorescences. The green to dry bracts are in pairs or missing completely. The five green to reddish sepals are fused to their base Röhrig. The petals are usually serrated, notched or slashed. The colors of the petals range from white to pink and red to purple.
From the 15th century, white carnations were a sign of love and marriage. Red carnations, on the other hand, served as identifiers of the socialist workers' movement and were worn, for example, in the GDR during party conferences at the lapel. The botanical genus name Dianthus means "Zeus flower" or God's flower "and comes from ancient Greek: Dios stands for "God" or "Zeus", anthos for "flower" or "blossom". There are also numerous German trivial names, for example Flädden (Eifel), Nägele (Swabia, Franconia) and Negelke (Pomerania).
The garden or land carnation is cultivated in numerous varieties and is especially in demand as a cut flower. As a mostly short-lived bed and balcony plant serves the bearded carnation, an old farmer garden plant. In addition to seedlings, seed mixtures are also commercially available. The Whitsun carnations (Dianthus gratianopolitanus) and their derived English garden carnations (Dianthus hybrids) are among the best aromatic plants in the assortment. They can be cultivated well in the pot or flower box on the balcony, but are also suitable for full sun in the beds or rock garden. The popular bearded carnations are often only two years old, but sow themselves at appealing locations themselves. In addition, there are quite a number of upholstery-forming species or horstig growing species, which are preferably used as greening for dry stone walls, in the rock garden or heather garden, for example, the spring carnation, the Carthusian carnation (Dianthus carthusianorum) and the heather carnation.
Most carnation species are difficult to share. They usually form no foothills, but have only a central and little branched, deep-going main root.
Almost all perennial carnations show good winter hardiness, provided that the soil is permeable enough and does not wet in winter. Rock garden species occasionally suffer from bald frosts because they lack the snow cover as a natural winter protection. With a light fleece cover you can prevent this.
Further care tips
Cloves prefer mostly sunny, dry places and need only little water. The grassy leaves evaporate little moisture, because they are additionally coated with a layer of wax. Fertilization is not absolutely necessary. Withered pedicels should be removed regularly to make room for new flowers.
The best way to multiply most carnations by cuttings. In early summer, take them from as many as possible flowering shoots and place them in sandy potting soil. Sowing is especially recommended for short-lived species such as bearded carnations and heather cloves.
Diseases and pests
The biggest threats are aphids and snails. If the location in the garden is too moist or too shady, cloves are prone to fungal diseases.