Garden carnations, or Dianthus caryophyllus, are sometimes referred to as pinks. These cheery, attractive garden bloomers comprise about 300 species and include perennials, annuals and biennials. So if you're located in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 11, you can enjoy the delicious, heady spiciness of carnations from late spring through summer. Then collect the seeds that begin ripening in August and mature in September.
Cut carnation blooms for your indoor arrangements freely throughout the summer beginning in June.
Deadhead stems that you don't cut for other uses as soon as flowers wilt and fade. This will extend the season by encouraging a second blooming flush from your carnations. Removing these blooms will also reduce unwanted perennial reseeding.
Choose your favorite carnation plants for propagation purposes during the last bloom flush late in the summer. Pick the most attractive, robust plants and leave the flowers on them to wilt, brown and dry completely. This will allow the seeds plenty of time to mature.
Cover the flower head with a small brown paper bag if it's windy to keep maturing seeds from blowing away. Secure it in place with a piece of string. Carefully open the bag every day or two to check the drying process.
Cut the carnation from the plant when the flower has dried to the point of being brittle. Leave about 6 to 8 inches of stem intact.
Hold the flower head inside the top of an open paper bag and gently crush it between your fingers.
Pick the seeds from the debris and put them in a paper envelope. Label the envelope with species and date. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place out of direct light until time to plant in February.