Carnations are flowers about the size of small peaches with ruffle-edged petals packed tightly together. Carnations come in every color except blue. Carnations are perennials; plant them once in the garden and they'll come back every year with the right care. If you love the look of carnations but would prefer other plants, don't give up. There are many flowers that resemble carnations and will do well in your garden.
Dianthus, sometimes called pinks, look like miniature carnations. The flowers grow to only 1 inch across, and the plant grows only up to 18 inches. The entire plant will be covered with blooms. They're called pinks because the edges of the petals look like they've been cut with pinking shears. Dianthus comes in red, pink, white and salmon. The petals are often tipped with a contrasting color. Dianthus likes a well-drained sunny location and slightly alkaline soil. The flowers have a spicy, pleasant scent.
Most hibiscus are frost tender. They grow to 5 feet high and have rounded arrow-shaped leaves. Single hibiscus flowers are 3 to 5 inches across with five ruffled petals and a prominent yellow stamen in the center. Double hibiscus are smaller and the stamen isn't visible. They look like huge carnations. The blossoms only last a day or two, and unlike carnations they close at night. Since they don't last long, hibiscus flowers don't make good flowers for bouquets.
Hollyhocks are a cottage garden flower and one of the tallest flowers around, up to 7 feet tall. The plant has large arrow-shaped leaves. The flower stalk has up to 50 flowers that bloom from the bottom of the stem up to the top. Hollyhocks will throw out side flower stalks that aren't as tall as the center main stalk. Double hollyhocks flowers are not quite as big as double hibiscus. Hollyhocks will last as a cut flower if the stem is seared with an open flame. The flowers are pretty floating in a bowl of water.
Petunias come in a myriad of shapes, flower types, colors and growth habits. Some varieties are edged in a contrasting color. Flower size ranges from 3/4 of an inch to 3 inches across. The ruffled double grandiflora petunias look like carnations. Petunias have a slightly sweet honey fragrance. They prefer well-drained soil in a sunny location. Most petunias are hybrids. If they go to seed, their offspring may not look like the parent plant. Keep the plant deadheaded and it will continue blooming profusely.