Carnations are attractive herbaceous perennials from the Dianthus genus. Carnations are easy to grow and don’t require a lot of maintenance. However, it’s essential to care for them correctly at the end of the season. In this article, I’ll run through everything you need to know about carnation end-of-season and overwinter care.
What Conditions Do Carnations Like?
Carnations are herbaceous perennials native to parts of Asia and Europe. They are hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 8 and thrive in rich, well-draining soils. Carnations require four to six hours of full sun each day and regular watering cycles, and occasional fertilizing to bloom at their best. Most carnations can also tolerate partial shade.
Carnation End-of-Season Care
Carnations are low-maintenance perennials that don’t need much care. However, they should be cut back twice a year, especially at the end of the season. These symbolic flowers bloom from late spring to late summer or sometimes early fall.
Most types of carnations should be cut back after their first round of flowers finishes. This encourages a second flush of fragrant flowers later in the year. This second round of flowers should end in late summer or early fall. After this, cut back carnations almost down to the ground to prepare them for winter.
You can also apply a thick layer of mulch around your carnations before winter sets in. The mulch should be a few inches thick. Mulch helps your carnations conserve water during the winter while also providing extra insulation.
Do Carnations Require Winter Protection?
Carnations shouldn’t require winter protection in Zones 3 to 8. These herbaceous perennials can survive in cooler climates, with some carnations native to alpine regions. Although carnations don’t necessarily need winter protection, it can still be beneficial.
Carnations thrive in Zones 3 to 8 but will struggle in colder areas. Carnations will need winter protection in Zones 1 and 2. If left unprotected, carnations will grow as annuals and ultimately die off in winter in these areas.
Winter Protection for Carnations
Carnations are fairly hardy and prefer cool temperatures. However, they can struggle in harsh winters. As such, it’s a good idea to mulch your carnations after cutting them back. Adding a thick layer of mulch helps your carnations preserve moisture while adding insulation.
As herbaceous perennials, carnations die back to the ground during the winter and go dormant. As such, it’s important to stop fertilizing carnations during the winter. Otherwise, this can disrupt their dormant cycle, exposing young growth to cold temperatures.
Winter Protection for Carnations Growing in Pots
In Zones 1 and 2, grow carnations in pots if you want to grow them as perennials. This also allows you to protect them easily during the winter. Before winter sets in, add a layer of mulch around the base of your potted carnations to improve insulation.
Wrap the pots in horticultural fleece to protect potted carnations during the winter. This keeps the roots warm. Alternatively, you can bring potted carnations indoors and store them in a garage or conservatory during the winter. These areas are ideal as they stay relatively cool rather than being warm and dry like the inside of our homes.
Carnation End of Season and Overwinter Care FAQs:
What to Do With Carnations at the End of the Season?
Cut back carnations in the fall after the second round of flowers has finished. Apply a thick layer of mulch around your carnations. Carnations will survive winter in Zones 3 to 8.
How Do You Keep Carnations Over the Winter?
Carnations should survive over the winter in Zones 3 to 8 before returning next year. It’s best to cut carnations back before winter and apply a thick layer of mulch to provide extra insulation.
Do You Cut Back Carnations in Winter?
Cut carnations back before winter at the end of the growing season. Cut them back close to the ground after the second round of flowers finishes. The plant will then survive underground before reemerging in the spring.
Do Carnations Grow Back Every Year?
Carnations are short-lived herbaceous perennials that grow back every year. These plants die back to the ground during the winter before regrowing in the spring. Carnations live for three to four years before becoming less productive. For more, see our in-depth guide on how tall and wide carnations grow under optimal conditions.
Will Carnations Survive Winter?
Carnations are hardy herbaceous perennials that can survive winter in Zones 3 to 8. In colder areas, carnations will grow as annuals and will die off in the winter. In colder zones, grow carnations in pots and bring them indoors during the winter.
Carnation End-Of-Season Care – Wrapping Up
Carnations grow as herbaceous perennials in Zones 3 to 8 and shouldn’t need winter protection. Cut back carnations almost to the ground at the end of the season to prepare them for winter dormancy. You can also add a thick layer of mulch to improve insulation. In colder areas, grow carnations in pots and wrap them in fleece or bring them indoors during the winter.
For more, see our in-depth guide to carnation growing zones and native ranges, the uses and benefits of carnation flowers, tips on growing carnation flowers from seed, tips on managing non-flowering carnations, beautiful flowers that pair well with carnations, and how to propagate and transplant carnation flowers in your garden.
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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