How Tall and Wide Do Carnation Flowers Grow?

Carnations are sweetly fragrant, herbaceous perennials that grow either as upright plants or as low-growing mats. I like to consider the mature height of plants when planning my garden display, and in this guide, I’ll run through how tall and wide carnations grow.

How Tall and Wide Do Carnations Grow?

How Tall and Wide Do Carnations Grow?

Most carnations grow between 0.5 and 2 feet tall and approximately 10 to 14 inches wide. As such, most are reasonably compact plants, meaning they grow well in containers.

Many types of carnations grow in alpine meadows in mountainous parts of Asia and Europe. These alpine varieties tend to form low-growing mats of leaves and flowers. These types rarely grow above 6 inches tall but can spread for several feet.

Carnations are short-lived perennials that last for approximately three to four years.

Which Carnations Are the Tallest and Shortest?

Red carnation flowers in bloom

Dianthus caryophyllus, also known as the clove pink, is one of the tallest carnations. This species routinely grows up to approximately 2.5 feet tall and about 1 foot wide. The clove pink is one of the most common carnation varieties and has been cultivated for thousands of years. They’re perfect for a host of gifting occasions and pair well with a range of other flowers.

The shortest species of carnation is Dianthus subacaulis. This low-growing species forms mats of grayish-green grass-like leaves and pale pink flowers. Dianthus subacaulis rarely grows more than 2 inches tall and is native to southern parts of France.

Factors Contributing to the Size of Carnations

Tall carnation flowers in bloom

To reach their full size, carnations require ideal growing conditions. While carnations are relatively easy to grow, they still have specific requirements. Here are the main factors that can affect the size of your carnations:

Growing Conditions

Carnations are pretty hardy, albeit short-lived herbaceous perennials that grow best in USDA Zones 3 to 8. Although carnations can tolerate cooler temperatures, they grow best in daytime temperatures ranging from 50 to 70ºF (10 to 21ºC). Sheltered locations are ideal for carnations.


Carnations thrive in full sun and need between four and six hours of direct sunlight during the day. Plant carnations in east or south-facing areas to provide plenty of direct morning sun. In hot summers, allow carnations to receive partial shade during the afternoon.


Carnations grow best in fertile soils but require good drainage. Chalky, sandy, or loamy soils are ideal but should be amended with some organic matter. Carnations also prefer neutral to alkaline soils with pH levels between 6.5 and 8.5. Carnations hate being waterlogged, so try to avoid overwatering them.

Water & Fertilizer

Water carnations once a week or whenever the top 2 to 3 inches of soil feels dry. Carnations are pretty drought-tolerant but may need extra water in hot, dry summers. Fertilize carnations every three to four months with a slow-release fertilizer. If you want to use liquid fertilizer, feed carnations once every month or two.


Carnations need approximately 6 to 12 inches of space between them and other plants. This helps promote good air circulation, which helps prevent diseases and problems like root rot.

Carnation Growth Expectations FAQs:

How Much Space Do Carnations Need?

Whether you’re growing carnation flowers from seed or planting nursery-grown starter plants, they should be grown approximately 6 to 12 inches apart. This prevents plants from competing for nutrients and water. Giving your carnations the right amount of space promotes good air circulation, which reduces the risk of diseases and pests.

How Big Do Carnation Plants Get?

Most carnation plants grow between 0.5 to 2 feet tall and approximately 10 to 14 inches wide. Some carnations form low-growing mats and rarely grow more than 6 inches tall. However, these alpine varieties can spread for several feet.

Where is the Best Place to Plant Carnations?

The best place to plant carnations is in a sunny spot with fertile, well-draining soil. Carnations need approximately four to six hours of full sun every day. They grow best in east or south-facing areas as these locations get lots of direct sun in the morning.

Do Carnations Need Big Pots?

Due to their relatively compact size, carnations don’t need big pots. Most carnations will be perfectly happy in small to medium containers if you’re growing carnations indoors or outdoors.

Do Carnations Come Back Every Year?

Most types of carnations are herbaceous perennials in Zones 3 to 8. Carnations die back during the winter before regrowing in the spring. However, they are short-lived perennials that only live for approximately three to four years.

How Tall and Wide Carnations Grow – Wrapping Up

Carnations are compact herbaceous perennials that grow between 0.5 and 2 feet tall. Most carnations grow between 10 and 14 inches wide. These symbolic flowers form low-growing mats that rarely exceed 6 inches in height. However, these carnations can spread for several feet.

Further Reading:

Contributing Editor | | Full Bio

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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