The Versatile Carnation: 9 Uses and Benefits You Might Not Know

Carnations are beautiful, popular flowers from the Dianthus genus in the Caryophyllaceae family. Carnations are native to parts of Asia and Europe and have been cultivated for thousands of years. In this article, I’ll share nine amazing uses and benefits of carnation flowers.

Amazing Carnation Flower Uses and Benefits

9 Uses and Benefits of Carnation Flowers:

1) Carnations Are Easy to Grow

Carnation flowers are easy to grow (be it from seed or as young nursery plants), even for novice gardeners. They are hardy plants that require little maintenance and thrive in cool temperatures in USDA Zones 3 to 8.

Carnations need four to six hours of full sun every day. Although carnations need to be planted in rich soils, they only need fertilizing once every three or four months with a slow-release fertilizer. Deadhead carnations throughout the flowering season and cut them back twice a year. Most types of carnations are also speedy growers.

2) Carnations Are Perennials

Carnations Are Easy to Grow

Most types of carnations are short-lived herbaceous perennials. Carnations grow as perennials in Zones 3 to 8 and annuals in colder areas. Carnations typically live for three to four years before becoming less productive.

As herbaceous perennials, carnations die back to the ground during the winter but survive underground. Carnations then regrow during the spring once the soil warms up. Carnations grow reasonably quickly and flower within four to six weeks of sprouting.

3) Carnations Thrive in Different Soil Types

Carnations Thrive in Different Soil Types

Carnations are adaptable plants that thrive in different conditions across their native range. These flowers grow best in rich, well-draining soils that provide good aeration. Carnations also prefer neutral to alkaline soils with pH levels between 6.5 and 8.5.

Chalky, loamy, or sandy soils are ideal for carnations. However, chalky and sandy soils may require extra compost to provide more nutrients. Carnations can also be grown easily in containers.

4) Carnations Have a Long Flowering Season

Carnations are famous for their beautiful star-shaped flowers that produce a sweet, spicy scent similar to cloves. Most types of carnations bloom from late spring until late summer or early fall. Carnations bloom for up to eight weeks at a time.

Once the first round of flowers finishes in early summer, cut your carnations back. This encourages your carnations to produce a second flush of blooms later in the year.

5) Carnations Add Ornamental Value

Carnations Add Ornamental Value

Carnations produce pink, purple, red, yellow, and white flowers throughout the summer. Many carnations also produce clumps of slender bluish-green or grayish-green grass-like foliage that add visual interest.

Most carnations grow between 0.5 and 2 feet tall and approximately 10 to 14 inches wide. Some carnations are low-growing alpine plants that form mats of leaves and flowers. These carnations rarely grow taller than 6 inches and are ideal for pots whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors.

6) Carnations Can Be Used as Cut Flowers

Along with roses, carnations are among the most popular flowers in bouquets. That’s because carnations make excellent cut flowers. These herbaceous perennials can flower twice a year, providing a good harvest, and pair well with a number of different flowers.

Carnations can last up to three weeks in a vase with the proper care. They are also used to create fragrant bouquets that make lovely gifts. Carnations can even be dried and preserved for several years.

7) Carnations Make Wonderfully Symbolic Gifts

Carnations Make Wonderfully Symbolic Gifts

Carnations are also rich in symbolism, which makes carnation bouquets ideal gifts for several situations. Carnations symbolize devotion, fascination, and love, especially motherly love. Different colors also change the meaning of carnations.

These flowers are an ideal gift for Mother’s Day or for the birthday of someone you love. Carnations and snowdrops are also one of the two official January birth flowers. Red carnations make beautiful gifts for Valentine’s Day.

8) Carnations May Have Medicinal Properties

Carnations play a starring role in herbal medicine and have been used to alleviate various health issues. They can help reduce swelling or inflammation and treat ailments like fever and stomach aches. Carnations were also used in herbal medicine to relieve menstrual cramps and muscle tension.

The carnation plant contains high amounts of saponins, and the leaves can be used to make soap. Carnation oil also has several benefits, including reducing skin irritation and skin conditions like eczema. What’s more, carnation tea can also help reduce stress.

9) Carnations Can Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Carnations Can Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety

According to several studies, carnations and other plants can help reduce stress and anxiety. One study found that looking at flowers like carnations reduces blood pressure. Looking at flowers also causes a drop in cortisol – a common stress hormone.

Being around plants also makes us happier, according to various studies. Another study found that having plants nearby can also increase productivity by up to 20%. Tending to carnations and other flowers while gardening also improves our mental and physical health.

Carnation Flower Uses and Benefits FAQs: 

What are carnation flowers?

Carnation flowers, scientifically known as Dianthus caryophyllus, are popular ornamental flowers native to Eurasia. Their ruffled petals characterize them and come in various colors, including pink, red, white, and yellow.

What are the common uses of carnation flowers?

Carnation flowers have several uses, including floral arrangements, decorative displays, corsages and boutonnieres, and dried and preserved floral designs.

What are the symbolic meanings associated with carnation flowers?

Carnation flowers have different meanings depending on their colors. Some common symbolic meanings include:

  • Red carnations: Love, admiration, and affection.
  • Pink carnations: Mother’s love, gratitude, and appreciation.
  • White carnations: Pure love, innocence, and good luck.
  • Yellow carnations: Joy, happiness, and friendship.

Are there any cultural or traditional uses of carnation flowers?

Yes, carnation flowers hold cultural and traditional significance in various regions, including: 

  • Mother’s Day: In many countries, pink carnations are associated with Mother’s Day and are given to express love and gratitude towards mothers.
  • Weddings: Carnations are often used in wedding ceremonies and floral arrangements, symbolizing love and commitment.
  • Funerals: White carnations are sometimes used in funeral arrangements to symbolize remembrance and purity.

Are there any health or medicinal benefits associated with carnation flowers?

Carnation flowers have been traditionally used in some herbal remedies and alternative medicine practices. While more research is needed, they are believed to have potential health benefits such as:

  • Soothing properties: Carnation extracts are used in topical creams and ointments for their potential calming and soothing effects on the skin.
  • Aromatherapy: The essential oil derived from carnation flowers is sometimes used in aromatherapy for its relaxing and stress-relieving properties.

The Uses and Benefits of Carnation Flowers – Wrapping Up

Carnations are gorgeous herbaceous perennials that have several uses and benefits. They are easy to grow and work well as ornamental plants. Carnations also make excellent cut flowers for vase displays or birthday bouquets, and they even have medicinal benefits.

For more, see our in-depth guide to carnation growing zones and native ranges, tips on managing non-flowering carnations, the best companion plants for carnations, the most fragrant types of carnation flowers, and how to propagate and transplant carnation flowers in your garden.

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