How to Grow Carnations for Cut Production

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Carnations are standard staples at most florists, a must-have Mother’s Day flower and a common garden plant. Generally, carnations bloom throughout the summer in a variety of colors: pink, red, yellow and white. Carnations are highly recognizable thanks to the ruffled, layered petals that form the distinctive blooms. Grow carnations specifically for cut production if you want to market your flowers, give them away or use them for indoor floral arrangements to bring living beauty to your decor.

Difficulty: Moderate


Things You’ll Need:

  • Carnation seeds
  • Topsoil
  • 4-inch container
  • Plastic bag/sheet
Grow Carnations in the Garden
  1. Sow carnation seeds in the outdoor garden at the beginning of spring or fall.

  2. Select an outdoor site that offers full sunlight, rich soil and good drainage. The ideal soil pH for carnations is between 6 and 7. To test your soil pH, obtain a testing kit from a home and garden store.

  3. Spread carnation seeds 6 to 8 inches apart to give the flowers plenty of room to root and grow, sowing seeds right on top of the soil.

  4. Cover the seeds lightly with topsoil, less than 1/2 inch deep.

  5. Water carnations in the garden only during long, dry periods. Otherwise, carnations will flourish well on their own.

Grow Carnations Indoors
  1. Plant carnations indoors 9 to 10 weeks before the last frost of the season, or before the time you plan to transplant them to the garden (early spring or fall).

  2. Fill any 4-inch or larger container with potting soil, leaving approximately 1 inch of room from the top. Even recycled containers, such as milk cartons, may be used.

  3. Provide drainage holes for the carnations, either by using a container that already features them or by making small slits into the container you’ve chosen.

  4. Scatter carnation seeds evenly on top of the soil and cover lightly with a thin layer (less than 1/2 inch) of topsoil.

  5. Water the soil lightly.

  6. Cover the entire container in a plastic bag or tightly closed sheet of plastic to provide humidity for the seeds.

  7. Wait for seedlings to emerge above the soil, until at least 3/4 of the seeds you planted have sprouted.

  8. Remove the plastic bag and set the container where the plants will receive direct sunlight.

  9. Keep the soil consistently moist until leaves begin to develop on all the plants.

  10. Remove seedlings from their communal pot and place them in separate containers to allow for root growth. When the carnations are 4 to 5 inches high, they are ready to be transplanted outdoors to the garden, or they may be left in their permanent pots and allowed to grow as indoor plants.

Tips & Warnings

  • Replace carnations every three years to keep flowers looking fresh and attractive.

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