Fringed or ruffled petals, attractive color selection, and sweet-spicy fragrance – not to mention the endless stunning floral arrangements it can be a part of – are just a few of the many reasons the carnation is top-tier in the world of flowers. There’s no doubt why it’s dubbed the “flower of the gods” and holds the record as the second most popular flower worldwide. Read on below to learn more about this stunning ornamental, including the native range of carnation flowers, ideal growing zones, and other interesting facts.
Carnation Flower Native Range – The Essentials
Carnation flowers, scientifically known as Dianthus caryophyllus, are native to the Mediterranean region, specifically the areas of Southern Europe, including Spain, Italy, and Greece. Today, carnations are grown in many parts of the world and are a popular choice for floral arrangements, bouquets, and gardens due to their beauty, symbolic value, and longevity. Carnations grow best in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 10.
The Carnation Flower
Carnation plants (Dianthus caryophyllus), also known as Dianthus or Clove Pinks, are reportedly second of the most popular flowers worldwide, next to roses. They have been in cultivation for over 2000 years and remain a favorite flowering plant for home gardens, floral arrangements, and commercial cut flower uses.
One of the reasons for carnation’s ubiquitousness is the wide variety of flower colors it offers. The blooms are available in almost every floral hue you could think of, but among the most common are pink, white, yellow, and red. Another factor is the flowers’ long vase life after cutting. Carnation cut flowers are longer-lived than the others.
Carnations are part of the Caryophyllaceae botanical family, commonly known as pinks, and are widely cultivated for their showy flowers. They belong to the Dianthus genus.
Get to Know Carnations: Where are Carnation Plants Native to?
Carnations are one of the oldest flowering plants in cultivation, with reports of this perennial being cultivated by the Greeks and Romans dating back to 2,000 years ago. Because of this, the exact native origin of carnations is challenging to determine.
Many believe, however, that carnations originated in the Mediterranean region of Europe and Asia. The now highly sought flowering plants reached the United States through Long Island, New York, in 1852 as part of the French flower shipment.
Carnations are technically classified into two types: wild carnations and border carnations. Wild carnations are simply those that grow in the wild, while border carnations are those that are hybrid cultivars produced mainly for commercial cut flower usage. To date, there are about 300 known species of carnations worldwide. Wild carnations, on the other hand, are currently a rare find.
Although the common name “carnation” technically refers to the Dianthus caryophyllus species, it is also used for the cultivated varieties between D. caryophyllus and other Dianthus species.
Dianthus Growing Zones
Carnations, being popular ornamentals for garden and commercial uses as cut flowers, are widely cultivated across the globe. They grow almost anywhere as the plants adapt to any climate.
However, carnations grow best in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 10. While other Dianthus species are more cold-hardy, you can expect carnation’s optimum growth and plant performance in areas where temperatures do not drop below 0 degrees F or above 40 degrees F.
A recognized variety of other Dianthus species known as the Desmond Dianthus (Dianthus plumarius ‘Desmond’) or Desmond Carnation is one of the few Dianthus plants that thrive in colder areas. It is hardy in USDA hardiness zone 4 to 8. The Hardy Mixed Carnations, on the other hand, are hardy in USDA hardiness zone 3 to 9.
When growing carnations, note that the ideal daytime temperature should be between 50 to 59 degrees F and 41 to 46 degrees F for nighttime temperature. Growing conditions with temperatures outside these ranges would most likely prohibit growth if not damage the carnations.
Planting carnations outside their ideal hardiness zones may not be the best idea, but it is still doable. But make sure to take into consideration several measures to ensure plant growth. For instance, plant in an area with approximately six hours of full sun and good drainage. Carnations can also be easily propagated and transplanted throughout the garden.
Carnation Native Range and Growing Zones FAQs:
Where are carnations commonly found?
Carnations are widely grown throughout the world. Yet, commercial production of carnation flowers is centered in Bogota, Colombia. There are also carnation commercial growing areas in southern California, Colorado, Kenya, Spain, Colombia, and Israel.
Where do carnations grow best?
The majority of carnation varieties are hardy in USDA 7 to 10. This florist-favorite perennial prefers full sun and well-draining, fertile soil. Note that carnations won’t grow well if planted in soggy soil conditions. They can adapt to partial shade but only expect the best flowering if grown in full sun.
Can carnations grow in a tropical climate?
Yes. In fact, carnations thrive better in tropical weather than in cold areas.
Are carnations easy to grow?
Carnations are among the popular flowering plants that are easy to grow. These ornamentals require minimal care once established, especially if given the right environmental conditions.
How long can carnations live for?
One feature that makes carnation cut flowers a florist favorite is their longer vase life than other cut flowers. Carnations can last up to three weeks in a vase, especially with the right care and environmental conditions. Keeping them away from direct sunlight and making sure that the water is always clean helps ensure that these blooms last.
Carnation’s popularity as cut flowers and garden plants is primarily why its cultivation has reached a global scale. They are grown worldwide with major commercial production areas in several countries. Hybrid carnation varieties are countless, with each kind boasting one or two must-have features that make this flowering gem even more attractive.
Aside from these, carnation holds the crown as one of the oldest flowering plants in cultivation. Unquestionably, it is rich in history and significant in many cultures and traditions. Such records, however, make pinpointing its exact origin and native range a challenge. It is believed that carnations are native to the Mediterranean region.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.
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