30 Types of Carnation Flower To Grow: How To Plant, Care Tips For Carnations

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | February 26, 2024

Couple looking at two carnation flower types after learning how to grow carnations, large flower, spray and dwarf carnations planting tips, and carnation identification.

The Carnation Flower (Dianthus caryophyllus) is a beloved garden flower prized for its frilly, brightly colored blooms and sweet, clove-like fragrance.1

With proper planting and care, Carnations can provide you with endless beauty and enjoyment in your home garden (even indoor gardens) or as cut blooms.

This guide explains details on popular Carnation flower types and varieties you can grow, as well as how to grow and care for them, overwintering and drying them so you can enjoy these charming flowers year after year.

What Is a Carnation Flower?

Carnations, also known as grenadine or clove pinks due to their pink hues, are a species of flowering plant in the Caryophyllaceae family.1

Native to the Mediterranean region, Carnations have been cultivated for over 2,000 years and are rich in symbolism, representing love, admiration, and distinction. In fact, the name Dianthus comes from Greek words meaning “divine flower.”


(Dianthus caryophyllus)

Carnation flower image in circle frame on green background.
  • Family: Caryophyllaceae
  • Genus: Dianthus
  • Leaf: Slender, bluish-green leaves up to 6 inches long
  • Seed: Tiny brown seeds that require light for germination
  • Blossoms: Showy, fragrant, fringed flowers that are 1-3 inches across. Colors include white, pink, red, purple, yellow, and green and may be solid, bicolor, or variegated. Petals are ruffled and fringed.
  • Native Habitat: Native to the Mediterranean region
  • Height: Ranges from 6 to 32 inches depending on the variety
  • Type: Perennial, annual, or biennial depending on variety and region
  • Native Growing Zone: Grows best in Zones 5 to 10

These herbaceous plants produce colorful blooms in various shades like pink, red, purple, white, and yellow and may be solid, bicolor, or variegated depending on the variety.

The flowers have a radial symmetry with petals that are serrated or fringed. They are solitary or produced in clusters of up to 5 blooms.

The frilly, fragrant flowers bloom in late spring through summer on stems rising from grass-like blue-green foliage.

You can also encourage reblooming into fall by deadheading spent blooms. Carnations grown for cut flowers have one large, fully double bloom per stem.

On the other hand, garden varieties produce smaller spray blooms.

3 Main Types of Carnations (Dianthus Flower) To Grow

If you want to grow Carnations, there are hundreds of Carnation cultivars to choose from depending on your preferences.2

Graphic of the main types of carnations to grow, categorizing them as Large-Flowered Carnations, Spray Carnations, and Dwarf Carnations, each with specific varieties listed and their ideal uses in gardening.

However, there are three main types of Carnations that gardeners typically grow:

1. Large-Flowered Carnations

The large-flowered or florist Carnation is the variety most commonly used type of Carnation by florists.2 These Carnations produce big, showy blooms on long stems, typically growing 18 to 30 inches tall.

The large Carnations are best suited as cut flowers. Popular large-flowered varieties include:

  • Chabaud Carnations: Chabauds produce abundant flowers in various colors like white, pink, lavender, yellow, and red. ‘Benigna’ is a classic white and magenta bicolor carnation.
  • Can-Can Series: These are vigorous growers to 15 inches with double blooms in shades of red, white, pink, and yellow. They are ideal for cutting.
  • Giant Carnations: They produce extra-large 4 to 5-inch blooms on long, sturdy 30-inch stems that are perfect for cutting.

2. Spray Carnations

Spray Carnations,1 also called miniature Carnations, are compact, bushy plants that yield masses of smaller blooms. They grow 9 to 24 inches tall, making them ideal for beds and borders in your backyard garden.

Some spray varieties include:

  • Oonto Series: These are compact 10-inch plants with large 2-inch fully double blooms. Colors include red, pink, white, purple and more.
  • Super Parfait: These mini Carnations are just 6-10 inches tall and covered in bicolor double blooms all summer.
  • Impulse Series: They are prolific bloomers that grow to 14 inches tall and are great for containers and edging.

3. Dwarf Carnations

Dwarf Carnations are diminutive perennial varieties that grow just 4 to 12 inches tall.1 Their compact size makes them perfect for rock gardens, containers, and edging the front of beds and borders.

Some top dwarf varieties are:

  • Miracle Reds: They produce bright red semi-double blooms on 6-inch plants. Vigorous and mildew resistant.
  • Purple Picotee: They have unique white double blooms edged in purple on 8-inch plants.
  • Firewitch: They produce early blooming magenta-red flowers on 6-inch mounds with blue-green foliage.

How To Identify Dianthus Caryophyllus

Carnation flower types have distinctive features and can be easily recognized for their popularity.

The following items are the easiest to spot:

Carnation Leaves

Carnation leaves are long and slender, tapering to the tip and the color is varying shades of green, depending on the variety.

Carnation Petals

Carnation petals vary, based on the type of flower, but in general, the petals are grouped, emerging from the center in a fan shape.

30 Popular Carnation Plant Varieties

Along with the 3 main types, there are many Carnation cultivars that offer different types of flowers based on their forms, colors, bloom time, height, and growth habits.

Graphic of Carnation Flower identification showing images of Carnation flower, Carnation leaf, and Carnation seeds, along with a US map color-coded for temperature growing zones.

Here are 30 of the most popular Carnation Flowers:

1. Miracle Rouge

Large, deep red blooms with a small white center streak with all, sturdy stems that are perfect for cutting. It produces an intense clove scent and grows 18 to 24 inches tall in USDA hardiness Zones 5 to 9.

2. Chabaud Mixed

This seed mix offers a rainbow of Chabaud Carnations in shades of red, pink, purple, yellow, and white.

All feature delightful fragrances and ruffled blooms. This variety grows 18 to 24 inches tall.

3. Marie Chabaud

Dating back to 1904, this vintage variety produces lemon yellow, fully double blooms with a sweet, spicy fragrance. It grows 18 to 24 inches tall and hardy in Zones 6 to 8.

4. White Chabaud

The white version of the classic Chabaud Carnation displays pure white, double blooms with ruffled edges and a spicy scent. It grows 18 to 24 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 6-8.

5. Helen

‘Helen’ opens frilly, soft pink double blooms above blue-green foliage.

Close-up of a Helen Carnation flower, displaying its soft pink petals and its delicate texture, set against a slightly blurred background.

(Image: FotografGabriel9)

This fragrant, long-blooming variety grows 18 inches tall and hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

6. Gina Porto

Large, fully double blooms of bright magenta pink adorn this variety. The spicy-scented flowers bloom spring through fall atop 30-inch stems.

It is hardy in Zones 6 to 9.

7. Laced Romeo

Deep red blooms edged in white give this Carnation Flower an elegant, contrasting color. The double blooms emit a mild, sweet scent.

It grows 18 to 24 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 6 to 9.

8. Red Rocket

Massive, pom-pom-like double blooms of deep crimson red sit atop sturdy 30-inch stems, perfect for cutting. This variety lacks fragrance but has superb vase life.

It is hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

9. Peppermint Star

Produces unique pink and white bicolor blooms on compact 10-inch plants. Fragrant flowers bloom in spring until frost and have evergreen foliage.

It is hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

10. Orange Sherbet

Beautiful coral-orange, double blooms with a sweet, spicy scent appear in abundance late spring through fall.

Close-up of an Orange Sherbet Carnation flower, showcasing its vibrant orange petals with a textured and ruffled appearance.

(Image: Milab8910)

It grows 18-24 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 6 to 9.

11. Apricot Delight

The unique apricot orange color of this plant’s flowers is fully double, pom-pom-like with fringed petals and a spicy scent.

This compact 10-inch plant blooms from late spring to fall and is hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

12. Blue Boy

Thanks to genetic engineering, this is one of few Carnations that have truly blue flowers. The double blooms have a sweet scent.

It grows 20 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

13. Purple Grenadin

Double, ruffled blooms of rich purple with white streaks rise on sturdy 18-inch stems.

Wonderful cut flower with a mild scent and hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

14. Candy Floss

Fully double, fluffy blooms look like their name, cotton candy. The pale pink flowers emit a warm, spicy scent.

It grows 8 to 10 inches tall and hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

15. Firewitch

One of the first varieties to bloom, this variety opens single, fuchsia blooms above grassy, blue-green foliage.

Vibrant pink Carnation flower in full bloom, displaying its intricately serrated petals and white central core, in a background of green foliage and budding stems.

(Image: Stickpen11)

It is intensely fragrant and grows just 6 inches tall and wide. Firewitch is hardy in Zones 3 to 9.

16. Double Picotee

Beautiful white Carnations with contrasting red picotee edging. Double blooms have ruffled petal edges and a spicy scent.

It grows 18 to 24 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 6 to 9.

17. Grenadin Red

A classic florist-type Carnation with large, fully double red blooms on long stems ideal for cutting. It lacks fragrance but has great vase life.

It grows 18-24 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

18. White Grenadin

This white version of the Grenadin Carnation boasts double blooms on tall stems. It lacks scent but holds up beautifully as a cut flower.

The White Grenadin is hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

19. Chianti

Chianti has unique bicolor blooms in shades of purple, magenta, and white. Its fully double flowers have a clove scent.

This variety has a compact 10-inch height and blooms from late spring to frost. It is hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

20. Purple Pixie

Dwarf purple-pink double blooms rise above compact 6 to 8-inch plants.

Purple Pixie Carnation flower with rich, deep purple petals from a green bud, in a blue sky with fluffy white clouds background.

(Image: Ray_Shrewsberry12)

Prolific bloomer from late spring to frost and hardy in Zones 4 to 8.

21. Tecumseh

Vibrant, cherry red semi-double blooms with bright white centers and green eyes with spicy clove scent. It’s a floriferous 12-inch tall plant and hardy in Zones 3 to 9.

22. Pinocchio

Ball-shaped, fully double blooms of burgundy-red. This plant is bushy and compact as it can reach just 8 inches tall.

It has an evergreen foliage and flowers lack fragrance. It is hardy in Zones 4 to 8.

23. Coral Reef

Beautiful Carnations in warm shades of coral, orange, pink, and yellow. It has a mix of single and double blooms, many with picotee tips.

It has a spicy scent and grows 18 to 24 inches tall.

24. Blue Satin

Large, velvety midnight-blue blooms with ruffled petals and mild scent. Its sturdy stems are perfect for cutting.

It grows 20-24 inches tall and hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

25. Neon Star

Bright magenta pink, semi-double blooms with contrasting white centers. Compact, 10-inch tall plants.

Vibrant Neon Star Carnation flowers with radiant pink petals and stamen, clustered together, surrounded by fresh green leaves.

(Image: PurpleOwl13)

It has mildly fragrant flowers from spring to fall and is hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

26. Sugar Plum

The Sugar Plum has vivid violet-purple semi-double blooms with tall, sturdy stems that hold it upright.

It lacks fragrance, grows 18 to 24 inches tall, and is hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

27. Peppermint Pink

Pretty bicolor blooms of light pink brushed with red striping. Double flowers have fringed petals and spicy fragrances.

Grows 10-12 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 5 to 10.

28. Jolt Cherry Cheesecake

Fringed, Carnation-like blooms in shades of cherry pink and creamy white.

It has abundant color from spring through fall and grows 14 inches tall. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.

29. Picotee

Beautiful white Carnations delicately outlined in pink. The double, frilly blooms emit a warm, spicy scent.

It grows 18 to 24 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 6 to 9.

30. Can-Can Scarlet

This All-America Selections winner boasts double, true scarlet blooms with a strong clove scent.3

The prolific plants reach 10 to 15 inches tall and hardy in Zones 5 to 10.

Close up of lush red Carnation flowers with velvety petals in a dark background.

(Image: __Tatius__8)

The wide range of Carnation varieties means you have a better chance of finding the perfect colors and scents for your garden. Consult your local nursery to find specific Carnation varieties suitable for your climate and growing conditions.

Growing a Carnation Flower: How To Plant

Carnations thrive in full sun and well-drained alkaline soil in Zones 5 to 10.1 You might need to amend the soil with compost or aged manure before planting.

Additionally, make sure to space the plants 8 to 12 inches apart and water them 1 inch per week while avoiding wetting the foliage so as to prevent disease. You can also feed them with a balanced fertilizer monthly during spring and summer to encourage growth.

In the fall, cut back the plants to 2 inches for winter protection.

How To Grow From Seed (Carnation Seeds)

Carnations can be started from seed indoors or directly sown in the garden. Here are some tips:

  1. Start seeds indoors 10 to 12 weeks before your last spring frost date. Use seed starting mix and keep the temperature around 70°F.
  2. Sow seeds on the surface and lightly cover with 1/4 inch of soil. Keep moist but not saturated.
  3. Germination takes 10 to 15 days. Provide plenty of light once sprouted.
  4. Once the seedlings have 3 to 4 true leaves, harden them off before transplanting outdoors after the danger of frost has passed.
  5. For direct sowing, prepare soil and sow seeds 1/4-inch-deep after the danger of frost has passed. Thin seedlings as needed.
  6. In the first year, Carnations typically will not flower when directly sown. But they will bloom the following season.

How To Grow Carnations From Cuttings

To propagate Carnations, take 4 to 6-inch stem cuttings from a healthy Carnation plant using clean scissors or pruners.

Remove the bottom leaves and dip the cut end in the rooting hormone. Stick into moist potting soil and keep warm and humid.

Roots should develop in 2 to 3 weeks then transplant it into the garden.

Growing in Containers

You can also plant in containers with drainage holes using potting soil amended with compost. Be sure to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy.

Carnations are generally no-fuss plants that are easy to grow.

Care Tips: Caring and Growing Carnations

Carnations thrive with minimal care.1

A vibrant cluster of pink Carnation flowers with white-edged petals, sprouting from fresh green stems, in a pot.

(Image: ingaklas14)

Here are some tips for growing healthy Carnations with abundant blooms:

  • Watering: Water Carnations regularly, allowing the top inch of soil to dry between waterings. Avoid wetting the foliage.
  • Fertilizing: Apply a balanced fertilizer monthly during the growing season.
    Compost also feeds Carnations well. Use lime regularly to keep plants healthy
  • Deadheading: Remove spent blooms to encourage continuous flowering. Cut back to the first set of leaves and leave some flowers on the last rounds if you intend to collect seeds.
  • Support: Use stakes or trellises to support taller Carnation varieties. Netting works well
  • Pests: Watch out for aphids, mites, and cutworms. Use organic insecticidal soap or neem oil if an infestation occurs.
  • Diseases:4 Improve airflow and avoid overhead watering to prevent issues like fungus and mold. Remove any diseased parts promptly.
  • In fall, trim back foliage to 2-3 inches above soil level after first light frost.
  • Mulch perennials over winter with 2-4 inches of straw or leaves but keep the mulch off the crown.
  • Divide congested perennial clumps every 2 to 3 years in spring or fall. Discard dead centers.

What Is the Best Fertilizer for Carnations?

Carnations benefit from a balanced fertilizer applied in early spring and again in early summer if needed.1 Options include an all-purpose 10-10-10 or bloom-boosting formula.

Granular slow-release or liquid water-soluble fertilizers can both be used but must remember to avoid over-fertilizing.

Overwintering Carnations

Carnations are generally cold and hardy down to Zone 5.1 That said, here are some tips for winter care:

  • In very cold climates, apply winter mulch after the ground freezes, leaving crowns exposed. Remove the mulch in spring after frosts pass.
  • Cut back stems to 1 to 2 inches in fall before heavy frost.
  • In marginal climates, cover the plants with a cold frame or unheated greenhouse to overwinter plants and ventilate them on sunny days.
  • Pot up plants to overwinter indoors in a sunny window but cut back before bringing them inside. Water sparingly over winter.

Common Problems and Solutions for Carnations

Although Carnations are very hardy, here are some common issues Carnations might face and how to resolve them:5

  • Wilting: This can indicate underwatering or disease. Check soil moisture and water if dry.
    Remove diseased parts and improve airflow.
  • Leaf spots: Caused by fungus. Avoid overhead watering and space/thin plants to improve air circulation.
  • Leggy growth: Plants need more sun. Move to a sunnier location.
    Can also indicate overcrowding.
  • Few blooms: Pinch off early buds to promote more flowering. Fertilize to stimulate blooms.
  • Flowers brown or shrivel: This can indicate botrytis blight. Improve airflow and reduce water on leaves and flowers.

Are Carnations Annuals or Perennials?

It depends on the variety. Large-flowered and spray Carnations are generally grown as annuals while dwarf types are perennials.

A lush garden with vibrant assortment of Carnation flowers in shades of pink, purple, and red, each with patterned edges.

(Image: JACLOU-DL15)

In warm climates, some large Carnations may persist for 2-3 years. Most dwarf varieties are short-lived perennials lasting 3-5 years with proper care.

When Do Carnations Bloom?

Most Carnations bloom from late spring through summer. Deadheading spent flowers will extend the blooming period into early fall.

Dwarf varieties and early bloomers like ‘Firewitch’ start flowering in late spring. Large-flowered and spray Carnations peak in early to mid-summer.

How Do I Keep My Carnations Blooming?

To maximize flowering, be sure to promptly deadhead spent blooms back to the first set of leaves. This encourages the plant to continuously produce new buds versus setting seeds.

Apply a balanced fertilizer monthly and water during dry periods.

Popularity and Symbolism

The Carnation Flower has great cultural and historical significance.6 Red Carnations represent admiration and you will typically see them worn on Mother’s Day.

White Carnations stand for innocence and pure love while purple blooms signify capriciousness. One more thing, the Carnation Flower is the January birth flower.

Carnations are used extensively as cut flowers and in floral arrangements. They also work beautifully in cottage and rock gardens.

If you love displaying your flowers, you will be pleased to know that these hardy plants have a long vase life and make excellent dried flowers.

Bright red Carnation flowers with intricate ruffled petals with with long green stem, laid on a dark stone surface.

(Image: Alexei_other16)

In the garden, they attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. However, deer and rabbits tend to leave them alone.

Carnations are prized as ornamental plants for beds, borders, and containers. Some varieties are perennial while others are annual or biennial.

With proper planting and care, Carnations are relatively easy to grow in the home garden.

What Is the Meaning of Carnation Flower?

Carnations symbolize love, fascination, distinction, and beauty:7

  • Red Carnations represent deep love and admiration.
  • Pink Carnations signify motherly love.
  • Purple means capriciousness.
  • White indicates pure love and good luck.
  • Yellow conveys rejection and disappointment.

How To Dry and Press Carnations

Carnations dry beautifully either hanging upside down or pressed flat. Here’s how to achieve the best results:

  • Choose fully opened flowers that still have good color and form. Cut the stem.
  • To air dry, bundle stems together and hang upside down in a warm and dry spot out of sunlight.
  • For pressing, place the flower face down between sheets of absorbent paper. Place inside a flower press or heavy books.
  • Check weekly. Carnations can take 1 to 3 weeks to fully dry depending on the flower size and current humidity.
  • Store dried Carnations in a cool dark place until you can use them in arrangements or craft projects.

Carnations are a delightful old-fashioned flower that deserves a spot in any sunny garden.

With abundant frilly blooms in vivid colors and a lovely clove scent, they make cheerful cut flowers. Choose from dwarf types for containers to large border Carnations for cutting gardens.

  • Provide fertile, well-drained soil and full sun.
  • Water deeply once weekly and fertilize lightly.
  • Pinch and deadhead to encourage prolific flowering.

With such minimal care, the Carnation Flower will reward you with its beauty and fragrance from late spring through summer or longer if you choose to dry it.

Are Carnations Perennials?

As a herbaceous perennial, carnations can be grown year after year, but they are also cultivated as an annual flower.


1N.C. Cooperative Extension. (2023). Dianthus caryophyllus. North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from <https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/dianthus-caryophyllus/>

2Nature & Garden. (2023). Carnation. Nature & Garden. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from <https://www.nature-and-garden.com/tag/carnation>

3Lerner, R. (2016, November 1). All America Winners for 2003. Purdue University. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from <https://www.purdue.edu/hla/sites/yardandgarden/all-america-winners-for-2003/>

4Wolcan, S. M., Malbrán, I., Mourelos, C. A., Sisterna, M. N., González, M. d. P., Alippi, A. M., Nico, A., & Lori, G. A. (2016, January 1). Diseases of Carnation. Springer Link. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from <https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-3-319-32374-9_14-1>

5Moorman, G. W. (2016, July 31). Carnation (Dianthus) Diseases. Penn State Extension. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from <https://extension.psu.edu/carnation-dianthus-diseases>

6Lamborn, L. L. (1901). THE EVOLUTION OF DIANTHUS CARYOPHYLLUS SEMPERFLORENS (Fourth ed.). BHL | Biodiversity Heritage Library. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from <https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/52916#page/4/mode/1up>

7Wikipedia. (2023, October 1). Dianthus caryophyllus. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dianthus_caryophyllus>

8Photo by __Tatius__. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/photos/carnations-flowers-red-bouquet-6292136/>

9Photo by FotografGabriel. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/photos/carnation-flower-pink-summer-4193887/>

10Photo by Milab89. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/photos/flame-orange-carnations-carnation-5244736/>

11Photo by Stickpen. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dianthus_gratianopolitanus_firewitch.jpg>

12Photo by Ray_Shrewsberry. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/photos/carnation-flower-plant-7442168/>

13Photo by PurpleOwl. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/photos/turkish-carnation-carnations-green-5232739/>

14Photo by ingaklas. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/photos/carnation-flowers-flowerpot-plant-6341736/>

15Photo by JACLOU-DL. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/photos/flowers-carnations-colors-parma-2675182/>

16Photo by Alexei_other. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/photos/red-carnations-flowers-petals-4689078/>

17A vase filled with pink flowers against a blue background Photo by Aleksandra Sapozhnikova. (2021, April 1) / Unsplash License. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Unsplash. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from <https://unsplash.com/photos/a-vase-filled-with-pink-flowers-against-a-blue-background-f1Z3dH5h1lI>