How to Propagate Carnations

Overview

Carnations are a lovely and versatile plant, favored not only by florists who use the blooms to create bouquets, corsages and boutinerres, but by the home gardener. Carnations are available in shades of red, yellow, pink, lavender and orange, and work well in flower beds, borders and rock gardens. Although carnations can be propagated by seed, growing them from cuttings will ensure more reliable results and carnations that look like the original.

Step 1

Take a cutting from a healthy carnation that has just finished blooming for the season. Locate a stem with two or three nodes, which is where a new leaf is beginning to grow from the stem. Using a sharp, clean knife, cut the stem at an angle just below a lower node, and trim off the top of the stem above the upper node. The stem should be at least 6 inches long.

Step 2

Fill a planting pot with commercial potting soil or compost mixed with sand. Any container will work as long as it has good drainage from the bottom of the plant. You can plant two or three cuttings per container but if you are propagating several cuttings, they can be planted in trays.

Step 3

Fill a planting pot with commercial potting soil or compost mixed with sand. Any container will work as long as it has good drainage from the bottom of the plant. You can plant two or three cuttings per container but if you are propagating several cuttings, they can be planted in trays.

Step 4

Dip the lower end of the cutting in rooting hormone, and plant the stem in the soil, being sure that at least 3 inches of the stem, including the lower node, is in the soil. The lower node will take root and new growth will emerge from the upper nodes.

Step 5

Set the pot in a tray and water the cutting from the bottom of the pot. When the soil is damp, remove the tray of water. Poke a few holes in a plastic bag and put the bag over the pot. If you're planting cuttings in a tray, put a sheet of clear plastic over the top of the tray. The plastic will keep the cutting warm and moist. The cutting should require very little water, but keep an eye on it, and mist the soil if it appears to be dry.

Step 6

Plant the carnation outdoors after the weather is warm and there is no danger of frost. Be sure the cutting has developed a sturdy root system, and if it hasn't, leave it inside for a few more weeks.

Things You'll Need

  • Carnation plant
  • Sharp knife
  • Planting pot or trays
  • Potting soil or compost mixed with sand
  • Rooting hormone
  • Clear plastic

References

  • Propagation Techniques: Cuttings
  • Carnation
  • How to Grow Carnations
Keywords: carnations, cuttings, nodes

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a longtime writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the "East-Oregonian Newspaper" and "See Jane Run" magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.