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How to Grow Dianthus

Pinks and Sweet William are two other names for Dianthus. Follow these growing instructions to get the most from your plant! Click here for more information on gardening from Ashcombe.

Dianthus are also called “pinks” and “Sweet William.” They belong to a family of plants that include carnations. Typically, they have a spicy fragrance. Dianthus can be grown as a hardy annual, biennial or perennial, depending on location. They are great used in the landscape, in borders and even in containers.

Dianthus are very easy to grow and quite versatile. The plants are compact and grow from 6 to 18 inches tall. There are many Dianthus varieties, and the flowers usually bloom in pinks, reds, salmons and white and red.

Plant Dianthus in full sun or partial shade (at least 6 hours of sunlight) in fertile, well-drained soil. Do not plant outside until after the danger of frost has passed (about May 15th in our area). Plant them about 12-18 inches apart and, for best results, do not mulch.


Water them only at the base of the plant to keep the foliage dry and prevent mildew spotting.

Allow Dianthus to try slightly between waterings and apply fertilizer every six to eight weeks. Some varieties of dianthus are self-sowing. Be sure to deadhead to eliminate the growth of volunteer plants. This will also promote a bushy, long blooming plant.

Dianthus can be propagated by division, cuttings or layering. Dianthus seed is usually available at any garden center and may be started indoors.

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