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Leading the way with Dianthus

British National Carnation Society

Spray carnations in full flower

Spray Carnations

I have had a go this year of growing a few Spray Carnations and I have been impressed with the results.They have been added to some show classes now and I have been keen to see what they are like compared to the other genus of Carnation which I try to grow.I have grown two varieties,

one being a white self called Milky Way, which has a strong scent and the other which is shown below is Wish.

I have found that there is an added bonus to growing them, it keeps the good lady from cutting my blooms and they seem to last a lot longer as a cut bloom.


 When the plants arrived they were potted up into a 3" pot, using my P/F mix, but any good pourous mix will do. I stopped the plants at 5-6 pairs of leaves. When this pot is full of roots but not pot bound, I pot into the final pot. I  used a 3ltr pot because I hope to keep the plant for two years and feel it allows them the room they need for this length of time, just a little care is needed with watering. After around 6 weeks when well rooted start to feed, I use Chempak No3 at 1/3rd strength every watering and will continue feeding at this rate during winter and summer.

As the side stems appear let them all grow to flower, with the main bud there is a slight difference between sprays and P/FS. With P/FS you disbud all the side shoots and leave the main bud, with sprays its the opposite; main bud out when large enough to break out clean, all side buds left on, hence the term spray. Sometimes a secondary bud will appear, this will also be removed to give better quality blooms.



Trying to Grow Perpetual Carnations.


 There is without a shadow (no pun intended) of a doubt that the main criteria for P/FS is light. Light determines the growth and flowering time and here where I try and grow P/FS for exhibition that is a limited time. I have said for a while that the name Perpetual is a misnomer, as far as I am concerned they have their allotted flowering time, just as Chrysanthemums and Dahlias. This normally falls between July and late September, as during September when the light levels and cold nights creep in the flowers slow down dramatically. Heat is also needed but without decent light levels the plants would have spindly stems and poor blooms. With this in mind I try and have the plants in 5” pots and stopped by December, this I would hope will give me blooms for July.


During the growing season the best blooms are marked out and its from these plants that the cuttings are taken

Take the cuttings from the seventh to tenth nodes.

Cut just below a node, dip only the cut end in rooting powder and then insert the cutting into the compost. Water the cuttings in and place them out of direct sunlight. Check them regularly and mist them with water to keep them turgid

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Petal Supports


If you are interested in showing, these are useful for supporting the guard petals on carnations whilst transporting and setting up. All you need is some cereal cartons, pair of scisso Mark out circles about 65mm (2”) diameter using a compass or pot lid or other                                                                                                                       circular item for the pattern.





Cut out with scissors or craft knife.

Mark out 15mm diameter circle in the centre and cut out.






Cut a slit from inner to outer circle to enable support to be slipped onto the stem.


Anything may be used for the collars, such as polystyrene, pipe lagging or cardboard

The collars are placed under the bloom in an effort to keep the guard petals at right angles to the stem.

The collars are kept on during transport to the show and until the blooms have been staged.

Remember to remove all calyx bands and collars before judging.

Support Hoops.

I use 3’ canes and attach hoops to the canes in order to keep the growing stems within the perimeter of the pot, and also to make sure the stems grow straight. There are many ways of making the hoops, I prefer to use piping that is cut to length and then attached via a screw to a clothes peg. This then enables the hoop to be moved up and down the cane, I also ensure that the hoop can open as this helps when removing the cut stem. I do also use wire hoops, these are also very simple to make, although I tend to use them on the Pinks, and the idea is the same, keeping the stems straight and within the pot as there is nothing worse than stems flopping all over.

hoops (2)


The hoops are simply made from tubing that is used as irrigation piping. Using a pot as a template for the length, its then cut and screwed to a clothes peg. The ends are left open, but a piece of doweling is inserted so that they can be closed.

The hoop is attached to the cane by the peg, which can be positioned where needed.

Keith 2

Growing Techniques in the North East


Keith 3

Spray Carnations


Keith 4/5/6

Plant updates

Pinks, Borders & Pf's