How to Prune Carnations

Pruning carnations encourages lush growth. image by aeh panattar:


Carnations are prized for their easy maintenance and many-petaled flowers. They bloom in early spring and often produce flowers well into fall if properly cared for. Pruning carnations, also known as deadheading, encourages further flowering and strong plants. Pruning encourages branching of the stems which leads to more flowers on each plant. It also keeps the flowers from going to seed so they continue to produce new flowers throughout the season. Check carnations for any needed pruning every 1 to 2 weeks during the growing season.

Step 1

Remove any dead, browning or damaged leaves from the stems and base of the plant. Either pinch off the leaf where it joins the stem or snip off with a sharp pair of gardening shears.

Step 2

Snip off spent or wilting flowers ¼ inch above the nearest leaf set.

Step 3

Remove side buds from the flower stems to encourage larger primary flowers or remove the top bud for a profusion of smaller flowers on each stem. Pinch the bud where it joins the stem between your thumb and index finger then pull to remove the buds.

Step 4

Pinch the top half inch of flower stem off when the stem reaches 6 inches high to encourage branching. This encourages multiple buds and a profusion of blooms on the carnation.

Step 5

Cut the entire plant to approximately 6 inches high if it becomes leggy or bedraggled in appearance. Snip each stem off as close to a leaf set as possible while maintaining a uniform height for each stem.

Tips and Warnings

  • Remove badly diseased plants from the bed entirely to avoid spreading to other plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Shears


  • Beginner Gardener
Keywords: pruning carnations, dianthus maintenance, flower deadheading

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

Photo by: aeh panattar: