With cheerful blooms, carnations are a beloved flower in the garden and vase. Not only do these plants grow well in the ground, but they can also grow well in pots. Keep reading to learn how to grow carnations in pots and containers.

How to Grow Carnations in Pots and Containers (Essential Tips)

Can Carnations Grow in Pots?

You can still grow carnations if you don’t have suitable soil or are limited to a patio or porch. That’s because many members of the Dianthus genus can grow well in pots!

Choose a container with drainage holes, use a well-draining potting mix, and place the pots somewhere that receives at least six hours of sun.

Most Suitable Carnation (Dianthus) Varieties for Pots

While you can grow many different types of Dianthus in pots, dwarf varieties are especially well suited to container growing. Some dwarf species and varieties to check out include Dianthus ‘Super Trooper’, Dianthus deltoides, Dianthus gratianopolitanus, and Dianthus ‘Vienna Mix.’

The Best Types of Pots for Carnation

The Best Types of Pots for Carnation

Since carnations require well-draining soil, you must choose a pot with drainage holes. Terra cotta, ceramic, glass, and plastic are all suitable materials, but you should note that you’ll need to water plants in terra cotta pots more often.

Choose a pot that is at least ten inches wide and ten inches deep to give the plants room to mature. If you want to plant more than one carnation in a pot, choose a container that allows for eight inches in between plants.

Suitable Growing Zones for Potted Carnations Outdoors

You can grow potted outdoor carnations in the same growing zones as in-ground carnations. That means potted carnations will grow well outdoors in zones 5–9.

Can Potted Carnations Be Grown Indoors?

Yes, you can grow carnations in pots indoors. However, you will need to ensure indoor plants have access to at least six hours of bright, direct light each day.

That means indoor carnations are best suited to sunrooms or areas near south-facing windows.

Tips for Preparing and Filling Pots for Carnations

Tips for Preparing and Filling Pots for Carnations

One of the most important aspects of growing carnations in pots is choosing the proper potting soil. These plants like well-draining soil, yet they also like their soil to remain moderately moist.

That means you should choose a potting mix that holds moisture yet also allows excess water to drain. I’ve found that a mix containing peat moss or coco coir and drainage material like perlite or pine bark works well.

Some specific products I’ve found work well include Fox Farm Ocean Forest and Espoma Organic Potting Mix.

How to Plant Your Carnations in a Pot

Once you find a pot with drainage holes, fill the container three-quarters of the way full with potting mix. Next, place your carnation plant in the pot, and then fill the pot with soil.

Water the soil well and place it in a suitable location.

Where to Position Potted Carnations

All types of carnations love lots of bright light. That means you should place your potted carnations somewhere where they receive at least six hours of direct sun daily.

If you live in a hot climate, the plants may benefit from a break from the harsh afternoon light. That means placing them somewhere where they receive morning light and afternoon shade.

How to Care for Potted Carnations

How to Care for Potted Carnations

Once you plant your carnations in pots, aim to keep the soil moist but not saturated. Depending on the temperature, humidity, and wind, you may need to water your carnations anywhere from once every other day to once every few weeks.

I find I need to water small plants more often than larger plants since their root systems aren’t as robust. However, once the plants are mature, their roots can reach water near the bottom of the pots.

A good way to check if you need to water your potted carnations is to stick your finger in the top of the soil. If the top two inches are dry, water your plants. And if the soil is still moist, wait to water.

To encourage your Dianthus plants to bloom continually, you’ll want to deadhead the plant. This involves removing dead flowers from the plant.

Fertilizing your potted carnations with a flowering fertilizer will also keep the plants blooming. Choose a product like Fox Farm Big Bloom or Dr. Earth Bud and Bloom Booster and fertilize your plants once or twice a month.

Overwinter Potted Carnation Care

Since carnations are perennials, they can live for more than one year. However, potted carnations often require special care since they’re more susceptible to cold than in-ground plants.

No matter your growing zone, you can bring your potted carnations indoors to protect them from cold weather. However, place them in a cool garage or porch rather than bringing them into a warm house.

You can also leave the pots outdoors. If you opt for this option, trim the plants to six inches tall, then mulch around and on top of the pot with a few inches of straw or mulch to protect the plants from the cold.

Transplanting and Propagating Potted Carnations

If you want to plant your potted carnation in the ground, spring is the best time. Choose a location with full sun and well-draining soil, then dig a hole about the size of the plant’s root ball. Place the potted plant in the hole, cover it with soil, and water well.

You can easily propagate carnations from stem cuttings. Summer is the best time to propagate, but you can also try this method in the spring and fall.

Use a sharp and clean pair of shears to remove the top six inches of the plant’s stem. Next, remove leaves from the bottom three inches, dip the ends in a rooting hormone, place them in potting soil, and water well. The cuttings should form roots within a few weeks.

Growing Carnations in Pots and Containers FAQs:

Can Carnations Survive the Winter in Pots?

Yes, potted carnations can survive the winter. You leave the pots outdoors and mulch them well, or bring them into a cool area like a garage.

Do Carnations Like a Lot of Water?

Carnations prefer moist, but not wet, soil. Depending on the weather, you can expect to water carnations about once or twice a week.

Do Carnations Like Sun or Shade?

Carnations prefer at least six hours of bright sun, but they can benefit from afternoon shade in hot areas.

Wrapping Up

If you’d like to grow carnations in pots, go for it! Just make sure to choose a well-draining potting mix and a container that provides enough room for these beneficial plants.

For more, see our in-depth guide to managing common carnation pests, the most fragrant types of carnations, carnation plant toxicity to pets, whether carnation flowers are edible, the fastest growing carnation flowers, the best companion plants for carnations, and how to dry and preserve carnation flowers.

Contributing Editor | Full Bio | + posts

Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

Author Briana Yablonski

Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

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