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3 Main Types of Carnations + 13 Varieties

Different Types and Varieties of Carnations

Most people think they know what carnations look like. After all these flowers are popular in corsages, boutonnieres, wedding center pieces and even on parade floats.

However, there are actually more than 100 varieties of carnations and different varieties may look quite different than the flower that you see in your mind’s eye.

Let’s take a look at the main types of carnations and the most popular varieties.

Different types of carnations.

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3 Types of Carnations

Carnations can be divided into 3 main types. The first type consists of large single flower heads on sturdy stems. This type of carnation is the one most of us recognize easily.

The second type is known as Dwarf carnations, which is the smallest type of these flowers. The third type of carnation is a spray flower, which consists of several small flowers growing on a single stem.

The different varieties of these flowers may grow in slightly different hardiness zones with most of these plants requiring little maintenance.

13 Varieties of Carnations

Here is a look at some of the more popular varieties of carnations that look great in gardens, along pathways or in containers.

#1. Dianthus Caryophyllus

Dianthus Caryophyllus

To many people the Dianthus Caryophyllus carnation is the carnation they recognize. These flowers normally come in white, pink, salmon and red. They grow best in zones 7 through 10, making these flowers ideal to grow in the Southern states.

These flowers grow to be between 6 and 24 inches tall and they will bloom in spring, but do keep in mind they are toxic to animals.

#2. Dianthus Barbatus

Dianthus Barbatus

The Dianthus Barbatus more commonly known, as “Sweet William” is a wonderful flower for your garden if you want to attract butterflies, birds and bees.

These flowers do best when planted in the late spring. They tend to bloom the second year after planting if they are grown in full or partial sun and moist well-drained soil.

These fragrant flowers can grow to be about 2 feet tall, and come in vibrant shades of pinks. They have pointed green leaves and are mildly toxic to animals and people. These carnations do well in zones 3 through 9.

#3. Dianthus Gastaniapolitensis

Dianthus Gastaniapolitensis

The Dianthus Gastaniapolitensis known as “Cheddar Pinks” is an excellent flower for ground cover due to their dense growth.

These summer blooming flowers grows best in zones 3 through 8 and enjoys full sun and slightly damp soil. They have olive green foliage and tiny double pink flowers. These flowers are toxic to humans.

#4. Dianthus Deltoids “Maiden Pink”

Dianthus Deltoids

The flowers known as the Maiden Pink carnations are short-term perennials that grow best when planted where they get a lot of sun and have well-drained soil.

These flowers are normally red or pink in color and grow to be between 6 and 12 inches tall.

Grown in zones 3 through 10 these flowers tend to bloom in late spring through the summer months. These flowers are native to Europe and Asia and are toxic to animals.

#5. Dianthus Chinensis or Chinese Pinks

Dianthus Chinensis

Known as Chinese Pinks these Dianthus Chinensis are native to China. These perennials grow best in zones 6 through 9 and bloom in late spring throughout the summer.

The Chinese Pinks come in red, pink, and white and can grow to be between 6 inches and 3 feet tall. These flowers like the sun, but don’t do well in high heat. They are highly attractive to hummingbirds and bees. They are also toxic to animals.

#6. Dianthus Chinensis Heddewigii

Dianthus Chinensis Heddewigii

The Dianthus Chinensis Heddewigii is often referred to as the black and white minstrels.

These lovely flowers are a dark purplish black velvet color with white ruffled edges that come to points.

These flowers grow to be between 1 to 2 feet tall with the average heights being around 14 inches. And they grow best in zones 2 through 11 and love well-drained soil and full sun.

These perennials bloom from summer until the first frost and are toxic to animals.

#7. Dianthus Plumarius

Dianthus Plumarius

The Dianthus Plumarius is a perennial carnation that is often grown as an annual. These flowers are great to use in rock gardens and along paths or sidewalks.

They grow best in zones 3a to 9b and prefer full sun and well-drained soil that prefers to dry between watering. The ruffled fringed petals come in pink, red, and white and bloom from May through August.

These flowers should be divided every two to three years.

#8. Dianthus Armeria

Dianthus Armeria

The Dianthus Armeria carnation grows slightly over 12 inches tall and has soft feeling leaves and soft pink flowers.

These flowers normally have at least 2 flower head per stem. These 5 petal flowers are not as fragrant as most carnations and are self-pollinators.

They grow best in zones 3 through 9 and prefer partial shade and shallow rocky soil.

#9. Dianthus Superbus

Dianthus Superbus

Native to Europe and Northern Asia the Dianthus Superbus is a perennial with 5 petal fringed flowers with petals that have a feathery look.

These flowers grow well in flowerbeds, as borders and containers. And the flowers have a lovely scent and can even be used to make tea.

These flowers grow best in zones 3 through 9 and blooms starting in early summer if they are grown in full or partial sun and well-drained soil. Colors of these flowers may be purple, red or white and can grow to be 1 to 2 feet tall.

#10. Dianthus Superstar

Dianthus Superstar

The Dianthus Superstar carnation is a cherry red perennial with a darker red center and fringe edged petals.

These flowers have a single bloom per stem and grow to be 6 to 8 inches tall with silver/blue foliage. These flowers prefer full sun and are both drought and heat tolerant.

They tend to bloom in late spring and summer and grow best in zones 5 through 9. Like most carnations this variety is toxic to animals.

#11. Dianthus American Pie

The Dianthus American Pie carnation has a single fringed flower growing on a sturdy stem.

It has silver foliage and a wonderful spice scent. This flower blooms from spring to fall and comes in a variety of colors including pink and lime green.

This carnation can reach a height to 11 inches and grows best in zones 4 through 9. It prefers full sun and sandy soil.

#12. Dianthus Neon Star

Dianthus Neon Star

The Dianthus Neon Star is a carnation that features bright pink fringe edged flowers on a single erect stem. The foliage for this flower is a pretty blue/green.

This flower grows best in zones 3 through 8 and prefers full sun and well-drained soil. The flowers grow to heights of 6 to 8 inches.

#13. Dianthus Pinball Wizard

The Dianthus Pinball Wizard is a white and pink full double carnation that is reminiscent of peppermint candy. This flower has blue/green foliage and blooms from mid-spring to early fall.

These 12-inch tall flowers grow best in zones 5 through 9 and prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They are highly attractive to butterflies and bees.

Final Thoughts on the Different Dianthus Varieties

Known as flowers of the gods, carnations make a wonderful addition to any flower or rock garden. The varieties of carnations mention above are only a small sampling of the many varieties of this flower that you can choose from.

Various carnation varieties.

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