How to Grow Carnations in a Container


Carnations have long been known for their symbolic meanings. Each color of the carnation represents a different meaning. For example, pink carnations represent a mother's love. Striped carnations symbolize rejection or refusal. The annuals thrive best in a constant temperature of 60 to 65 degrees with moist soil. Dwarf varieties and hybrids are the most suitable carnations to grow in a container.

Step 1

Transplant new carnations from the original container to a larger container to support plant growth and the root system. Most carnations in containers are root-bound when purchased. Transfer to two pot sizes larger. For example, if the original container is a 6-inch pot, transfer to a 10-inch pot.

Step 2

Water carnations in containers with 4 to 8 ounces of water weekly. Pour the water at the base of the plant next to the potting soil. Avoid wetting leaves or stems to reduce the potential for pests and diseases. Stop watering and allow drainage when water drips from the bottom of the container.

Step 3

Fertilize potted carnations with 20-10-20 liquid fertilizer bi-monthly. Use one part liquid fertilizer to 10 parts water.

Step 4

Cut stems for flower arrangements with sterilized pruning shears. Always cut, holding the pruning shears at a 45-degree angle, to prevent damage to the remaining stem.

Step 5

Snip off the bottom one-quarter leaves and any small and weak stems bi-weekly to prevent carnations becoming leggy.

Step 6

Aerate the potted carnation by placing an unsharpened pencil into the potting soil. Push the pencil halfway down into the soil. Rotate the pencil three full turns. Remove the pencil. Repeat using the pencil to make four to eight small holes, depending on the pot size. For example, make four holes for small pots and eight holes for pots 10 inches or larger.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never allow temperatures to exceed 65 degrees or carnations will wilt and shrivel.

Things You'll Need

  • Potted dwarf carnations
  • Water
  • 20-10-20 fertilizer
  • Sterilized pruning shears
  • Containers
  • Unsharpened pencil


  • "The Potted Plant: New Plants and New Approaches for Container Gardens"; Scott Appell; 2001
Keywords: carnations in containers, grow potted carnations, carnations

About this Author

Lisha Smith writes for several blogs and has freelanced for six years. She has a Bachelor of Arts from UNC-Greensboro in psychology. Smith has self-published several books. Her areas of experience include gardening, cooking, home improvement, pets and mental health.