October – Dianthus for all seasons

Ask any experienced gardener and they’ll tell you that no garden bed is complete without a representative of this group of annuals bringing their particular brand of hardy good cheer. Dianthus is one of those all-rounder’s that satisfies, no matter your priorities.


If it’s a colourful show you’re after these little stunners can be coaxed into flowering throughout the year! This holds true even in frosty parts of the country. The family produces flowers in a spectacular range of hues.  Dianthus derives its name from the Greek dios, a god or divinity and anthos, a flower. This can then be interpreted as “divine flower” or “flower of the gods”. With its wide range of colours, adaptability and long lasting nature, it is not difficult to see how it came by that name. Dianthus is also very tolerant of both heat and cold so can be planted throughout the year. This is particularly good news for those areas that suffer winter frost and are limited in choice for winter colour.

The delicately fringed blooms, typical of many of the dianthus, lend form and texture to borders, rockeries, small flower beds and balconies while their generosity of flowers, with a little coaxing, promise a bright splash of year-round colour. Plant your seedlings 15cm apart, with a thick layer of mulch between the plants, in a sunny position (although they will tolerate some shade in summer) in compost enriched soil and give them a fortnightly booster of a well-balanced fertilizer to ensure a bumper crop of blooms. Being “Water-Wise” Dianthusprefer infrequent but deep watering- another plus for this family of favourites.

Restricted to pots or simply yearning to bring your garden closer to your home? All of the dianthus group adapt exceptionally well to pots. Once in full bloom Dianthus can be brought inside as a living bouquet. Pay pots on sunny patios a little closer attention than you do the Dianthus in your garden by being more generous and frequent with your watering.

This worthy family includes the well known perennial carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus), perfect for picking with its long history of being used as an expression of loving care. All dianthus respond to being picked regularly by upping their yield; one more reason you’ve got to love Dianthus. Giving them a significant haircut – about 10cm – after the first flush of blooms have spent themselves generally results in an even better second show. Regular deadheading is the last step towards helping them give you up to four sets of blooms across the year. There are not many flowering families that can boast such abundance!

Top Tip!

Because of their relatively short stature and vivid blooms, dianthus are ideal for edging a bed, planted along pathways and in pots.

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