Carnation or Clove Pink (Dianthus x caryophyllus)


Carnation or'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via

Carnation or ‘Clove Pink’ (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via

Carnation or'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via

Carnation or ‘Clove Pink’ (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via

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.

Carnation or'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via

Carnation or ‘Clove Pink’ (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via

Carnation or'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via

Carnation or ‘Clove Pink’ (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via


  • Latin Name: Dianthus x caryophyllus

  • Common Name: Carnation or “Clove Pink”

  • USDA Zone: 6-9

  • Height: 18″-24″

  • Spread: 15″-18″

  • 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!).

Carnation or'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via

Carnation or ‘Clove Pink’ (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via

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?


10 responses to “Carnation or Clove Pink (Dianthus x caryophyllus)”

  1. Hi, I love carnations too, but don’t like the fact that I have to treat them as annuals in my garden here in London, they really don’t like the winter here, although perfectly hardy it rains too much and it’s not enough sunshine. I have tried a couple of times, but by the time the plants have recovered from winter we are halfway through summer. Better to buy new plants every spring, and for annuals I tend to choose other plants than carnations. But they are lovely, and do smell nice. Maybe next year ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Helene! It’s true, they’re a bit fussy with the wet. Some of the other Dianthus seem to do better, but with carnations I’ve never had them last more than a couple of years, and I’ve never used them as an annual before. I just couldn’t resist that scent!! I don’t know if I’ll be doing it every year, though. Thanks for visiting! ๐Ÿ™‚ ~Angela~

  2. Paula @ Spoons n Spades Avatar
    Paula @ Spoons n Spades

    Pinks are wonderful, like you, I love them for their delicious scent. I have several varieties in my garden now, but I’m waiting for a new one called ‘Blueberry Pie’ to arrive in the post. It has mauve-blue flowers and looks so pretty.

    1. Paula, that sounds like such a pretty color! I am going to have to see if I can get that one here. Thanks for visiting!! ~Angela~

  3. The colors are so beautiful. I have been meaning to add more of these to the garden.

    1. Thank you! I haven’t had them for years, but I am really enjoying them this year. ~Angela~

  4. Merideth Avatar

    Um. Poisonous? Are we talking about the same flower here? Dianthus caryophyllus? It’s been used in food for time out of mind. I just went and did some research because I’ve been putting the pink petals in my tea for a while now with no issues. I also like to snack on the petals when I’m dead-heading them. Where did this information come from?

    1. Merideth Avatar

      In doing more research on the edibility of clove pink, I found this: . ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!

      1. Thank you, Merideth! Great resource! ~Angela~

    2. Goodness, Merideth, you are correct!! I wrote this post last year and I think I must have been very confused, or misread what I was looking at. Thank you so much for the correction! I’ve updated the post as well. ~Angela~

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