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How to Deadhead Carnations

Carnations come in a variety of colors and sizes that add brightness to your garden beds, containers and edging. It's possible to keep your carnations blooming all summer depending on the variety and if you remember to deadhead them. Deadheading is the process of removing spent blooms before they go to seed. After a carnation goes to seed, it focuses its energy on developing seeds instead of flowers. Stopping this process encourages the flowers to set new flowers so it can start making seeds again.

Snip off all brown, dead or diseased looking leaves from the flower stems. Snip them off with your garden scissors where the leaf joins the stem.

Study each flower. Snip off those that are spent or are beginning to turn brown and shriveled around the edges. Snip the flower off ¼ inch above the nearest set of leaves.

Look for any seed heads that have begun to form. Snip them off ¼ inch above the nearest leaf set.

Cut off any stems that already have most of their leaves removed due to wilting and browning. Snip the stem off above the last set of healthy leaves. This encourages the carnation to concentrate on putting on a new bloom at that stem instead of growing new leaves.

Facts About Carnations

Carnations will grow in sandy, loamy and heavy clay soils, as long as they’re well-draining. They also thrive in very alkaline and saline soils, tolerating a pH range between 6.0 and 8.0. Carnations do not like soggy soils and overwatering will cause carnation foliage to yellow. Carnations also need good air circulation around the roots and stems, so do not need mulching. Symptoms appear as light gray spots on the leaves that later turn brown. Root rot (Rhizoctonia solani) may also cause stem decay and wilting of carnations. An essential oil is also obtained from carnation flowers and used in perfumes and soaps.


Deadhead blooms when they are at their fullest to display indoors while the carnation sets new flowers. Deadhead once weekly during the height of the blooming season.


Clean your gardening shears before use with soapy water, then rinse and dry well to avoid spreading disease to the carnations. Only use sharp blades to avoid damage to the plant or yourself.

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