Carnation Flower Information


The carnation is the birth flower of the month of January, and a sentimental favorite of many.The spicy scent of carnations is reminiscent of cloves. They are long-lasting cut flowers often used in flower arrangements, boutonnieres and corsages.

Carnation flower image by "Free Ruffled Pink Carnation on Aqua Creative Commons" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: Pink Sherbet Photography (D. Sharon Pruitt) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.


The carnation is one of the oldest cultivated flowers. It scientific name Dianthus caryophyllus means "flower of the gods."


Carnations are also known as pinks. The name "pink" is not from the color, through often carnations are pink or rose, but rather from the "pinking" or jagged edges on the flowers.


The cheddar pink, Dianthus gratianopolitanus, is useful in a rock garden setting. Maiden pinks, Dianthus deltoides, stand out for their deep red coloring. Sweet William, Dianthus barbatus, is an old-fashioned fragrant bloomer likely to be found in a cottage garden. The large carnations available from florists are most often grown only in greenhouses.


Florist carnations are most often white, pink and red, sometimes with a second color on the edges of the flower. White carnations are sometimes tinted for special occasions such as holidays or celebrations. You can dye carnations yourself by placing the flowers in a jar of water to which food coloring has been added.


In 1907, when Anna Jarvis proposed a day of commemoration for mothers, she started the tradition of wearing a carnation because it was her mother's favorite flower. It is still a common practice on Mother's Day for people to wear a white carnation in honor of a deceased mother or a colored carnation to honor a living mother.


  • The History of Mother's Day
  • University of Vermont Extension
  • University of Illinois Extension
Keywords: florist carnations, carnations as Mother's Day flowers, pinks

About this Author

Gwen Bruno has been a full-time freelance writer since 2009, with her gardening-related articles appearing on DavesGarden. She is a former teacher and librarian, and she holds a bachelor's degree in education from Augustana College and master's degrees in education and library science from North Park University and the University of Wisconsin.