When you plant a carnation in your garden, you expect the plant to pop with colorful ruffled blooms. But sometimes you’re left with green leaves and a disappointing lack of flowers! In this guide, I’ll share my experience of why your carnation is not flowering and how to fix it.
5 Common Reasons Why Your Carnations Are Not Flowering
If your carnation plants aren’t flowering (or are only producing a few flowers), see if any of these causes are to blame.
1) Not Enough Sun
All types of carnations grow best in full sun. If these plants receive less than eight hours of direct sun each day, they may appear stunted and fail to flower.
Remember that producing flowers is an energy-intensive process, and plants get their energy from the sun! That means that a lack of sun is a common cause of a lack of flowers.
2) Improper Fertilization
Not fertilizing your carnations properly or forgoing fertilization entirely can lead to a lack of blooms. Like all plants, carnations require 18 different nutrients to thrive.
Along with supplying your carnation with all these nutrients, you’ll need to ensure you provide the proper balance of nutrients.
One common cause of a lack of flowers is too much nitrogen and too little phosphorus. While nitrogen is essential for green growth and the production of proteins, it isn’t the only nutrient plants need.
Phosphorus helps encourage carnation plants to produce flowers, so it’s essential if you want a healthy display of ruffled blooms.
With this information in mind, I recommend fertilizing your carnation plants with a product designed for flowering plants. Some good fertilizers to try out include Down to Earth Rose & Flower Mix and Jobe’s Organics Rose & Flower Food.
3) Improper Soil Moisture
Carnations will grow best when their soil is kept consistently moist but not wet.
Too much moisture can cause the carnation plants to become stressed and even lead to root rot. And too little moisture can also cause stress and prevent the plants from taking up the necessary nutrients.
You should water the soil around your carnations when the top inch or two of soil is dry.
4) Poorly Draining Soil
While your watering schedule impacts the soil moisture level, so does the soil type. Compacted soils, as well as soils high in clay, often experience poor drainage.
If your soil is poorly draining, your carnation plant’s roots may constantly sit in moisture, making it difficult for plants to take up water and nutrients. Plus, the carnation’s roots may begin to develop root rot if the soil is always wet.
The best time to address soil issues is before you plant your carnations. If you have compacted soil, use a digging fork or shovel to loosen the soil.
Another thing to watch out for is heavy clay soil. If you know your soil is high in clay, mix a few handfuls of finished compost or peat moss into the soil to improve the texture.
If you’re planting your carnations in a pot, choose potting soil that offers good drainage. One suitable option is Fox Farm Ocean Forest Potting Mix.
5) Plants Are Too Young
Another reason your carnations may not be flowering is that they are too young! Most carnations take about four months between transplant to flower production.
That means if you just planted carnations outside two months ago, the plants still need some time to mature before they will begin producing flowers.
Fortunately, this cause has an easy fix: patience! As long as you continue to provide your young plants with water, sun, and nutrients, they should produce flowers once they are a bit older.
Why is My Carnation Not Flowering FAQs:
How Long Do Carnations Take to Flower?
Most types of carnations take between 120–140 days between transplant and the first flower. However, some carnations can begin to produce flowers in as little as six weeks after you plant their seeds.
Why Is My Carnation Not Flowering?
The symbolic carnation plant may fail to produce flowers if they do not receive enough sun, sits in wet soil, does not receive enough water, or receives improper fertilization.
How Long Do Carnations Last?
Carnations can last one to two weeks after they are cut. Keep them out of direct light and change the water regularly to help them stay fresh.
Carnations Not Flowering – Wrapping Up
If your carnation is not flowering, factors such as too little sun, improper fertilization, and wet soil could be to blame. By fixing these issues, you can encourage your carnation plants to produce beautiful blooms.
For more, see our in-depth guide to carnation growing zones and native ranges, the best locations to plant carnations, and how to propagate and transplant carnation flowers in your garden.
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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