Carnations are beautiful herbaceous perennials known for their fragrant flowers. Carnations come from the Dianthus genus and thrive in cool temperatures in USDA Zones 3 to 8. But can you grow carnations indoors as well? In this article, we’ll explain whether carnation plants can grow indoors.
Can Carnation Plants Grow Indoors?
Carnations are adaptable plants that can also grow indoors as houseplants. If you live in Zones 1 and 2, growing carnations indoors is the best way to enjoy these gorgeous flowers. Alternatively, you can grow carnations outdoors in pots and bring them inside during harsh winters.
Carnations (Dianthus) are short-lived herbaceous perennials that grow best outdoors in cool conditions in Zones 3 to 8. Carnations need approximately four to six hours of full sun every day. For optimal growth, plant carnation flowers thrive in rich, well-draining soils that are neutral to alkaline.
You can also start carnation seeds off indoors to give them a head start. This also helps protect young seedlings from cold temperatures if you live in a cold climate.
How to Grow Carnations Indoors
Many types of carnations can be grown indoors all year round as houseplants. This is ideal if you live in Zones 1 or 2, where the winters are too cold to grow carnations outdoors permanently.
Indoor carnations need lots of sunlight to keep them healthy and help them flower. Position your carnations somewhere that receives bright, direct light for approximately six hours daily. East or south-facing rooms are ideal.
Carnations grow best in cool temperatures, so position them in cooler parts of your home. The ideal temperature for indoor carnations is between 60 and 70ºF (15.5 to 21ºC). A conservatory is a perfect space for your carnations.
Carnations need rich, well-draining soils that provide good aeration. Carnations hate sitting in waterlogged soil, meaning they need good drainage. Mix some indoor potting mix with horticultural grit, sand, or perlite to provide a good blend of nutrients and drainage.
Water carnations once a week if the top 2 inches of soil feel dry. Carnations don’t like being waterlogged, so try to avoid overwatering them. Fertilize carnations every two weeks using a dose of diluted liquid fertilizer. Always dilute the fertilizer according to the instructions on the bottle.
Overwintering Carnation Plants Indoors
Outdoor carnations grow as annuals in cold areas in Zones 1 and 2. If you want to grow carnations all year round in these areas, it’s best to grow them in containers. Bring your carnations indoors to protect them from cold, freezing temperatures when winter arrives. You can also wrap potted carnations in horticultural fleece or grow them permanently indoors.
Starting Carnation Seeds Indoors
You can also start carnation seeds off indoors, regardless of your local climate. This helps your carnations to flower more quickly, giving you a longer blooming season.
Sow your carnation seeds in pots approximately eight weeks before your last frost is due. Use a mix of seed compost and perlite or vermiculite. The seedlings should emerge within two to three weeks.
Once the seedlings emerge, keep caring for them indoors until the last frost has passed. You can then harden your carnation seedlings off to get them accustomed to being outside. Then, transplant them directly into the soil or an outdoor container. Carnations should flower within four to six weeks after sprouting.
Growing Carnation Plants Indoors FAQs:
Do Carnations Come Back Every Year?
Carnations are herbaceous perennials that grow back every year. However, carnations are short-lived plants that only live for about three or four years. Carnations die back during the winter and regrow in the spring.
How Often Do You Water Carnations Indoors?
If you’re growing carnations indoors, water them approximately once per week. You may need to water them more frequently during hot, dry summers.
What to Do With Carnation Plants For Winter?
Carnations can survive winter outside in Zones 3 to 8. However, if you live in colder areas, it’s best to grow carnations in pots and bring them indoors during the winter. Alternatively, you can grow carnations indoors all year round.
How Do You Start Carnations Indoors?
Start carnation seeds indoors during late winter or early spring. Sow the seeds in pots approximately eight weeks before the last frost is due. Plant them outside once all risk of frost has passed.
How Do You Take Care of Potted Carnations?
Potted carnations need bright, direct light for approximately six hours a day. Potted carnations also need rich, well-draining soils that won’t become waterlogged. Water potted carnations once a week and feed them every two weeks with diluted liquid fertilizer.
Carnations are adaptable perennials that can be grown indoors or outdoors. Indoor carnations need lots of bright, direct sunlight and a rich, well-draining potting mix. Indoor carnations prefer cool temperatures between 60 and 70ºF. You can also start carnation seeds off indoors before planting them outside.
For more, see our in-depth guide to carnation growing zones and native ranges, the uses and benefits of carnation flowers, tips on managing non-flowering carnations, beautiful flowers that pair well with carnations, how to propagate and transplant carnation flowers in your garden, and why the carnation is Ohio’s State Flower and Spain’s National Flower.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.
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