Carnations are perennial herbaceous plants that are also known as Dianthus caryophyllus and Clove Pink. They are part of the Dianthus genus in the Caryophyllaceae family. The plants originate in the Mediterranean area. There are many different cultivars of carnations in existence.
Carnations come in various colors, including rose, pink, purple, red and white. There are also bicolor carnations. Carnations are sweetly fragrant, with a scent that is reminiscent of cloves. The plants grow to be between 9 and 18 inches in height, and 1 inch in width.
Carnations are cultivated in the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) plant hardiness zones of 8, 9 and 10. They require full sun and bloom starting in the beginning of the spring to the end of the season. Carnations generally need alkaline, well-drained, fertile soils and cool conditions. They do not manage humidity or heat well, although there are some heat-tolerant varieties. In hot climates or during the summer months, it is beneficial to plant carnations in partial shade.
As with most plants, carnations are occasionally susceptible to diseases. Carnations can experience damage due to viral diseases, fungal diseases and bacterial diseases. Conditions that affect carnations include crown gall, bacterial leaf spot, gray mold, downy mildew, rust, greasy blotch, carnation ring spot, carnation latent and pythium root rot.
Carnations could also experience pests, although many of the plants have been bred for disease resistance. Some of the most common pests include mice, rabbits, birds, aphids (such as greenfly), ants, leafminer, carnation fly, carnation maggot, earthworms, caterpillars, red spider mites, earwigs, snails, slugs, wireworms and thrips.
Carnations often symbolize concepts such as fascination, love and distinction. Carnations that are pink symbolize the undying love of a mother. It is also the birth flower for individuals that were born during the month of January. Pale red carnations symbolize admiration, while deep red symbolizes strong affection and love.