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How to Grow Carnations Indoors

By Jenny Harrington ; Updated September 21, 2017

Carnations, or Dianthus, come in a range of shades between white and red with some green and purple varieties. There are both annual and tender perennial carnations. Both are usually grown outside as annuals as they do not survive frost. Grow carnations indoors for later transplanting into the garden or keep a pot of the tender perennials inside to brighten up a window. They are simple to start and easy to care for, requiring minimal maintenance once established.

Fill a small pot with a quality potting mix. Fill it to within 1 inch of the rim and moisten it evenly throughout.

Scatter two or three seeds per pot on the soil surface. Cover them with 1/8 inch of soil then lightly mist the top of the soil with water to moisten.

Place the pot into a plastic bag and seal closed. Place carnations in a warm, 65 to 75 F room to germinate.

Remove the plastic bag once seedlings sprout. Place in a warm, sunny window and keep the soil moist at all times.

Transplant carnations once they develop their third set of leaves. Transplant into a permanent container filled with the same potting mix or transplant into a well-drained garden bed if frost danger has passed. Dig a hole in the soil large enough for the root ball and soil from the seedling pot. Set the entire root ball into the new soil and lightly firm the soil around it. Water thoroughly after replanting.

Pinch off ½ inch from the tops of each growing stem to encourage fullness once the plant begins forming flower buds. Pinch off any whithered blooms before they form seeds to encourage further blooming.


Things You Will Need

  • Seedling pots
  • Potting mix
  • Spray bottle
  • Plastic bag
  • Large pot


  • Start carnations indoors six weeks before the last spring frost date in your area.
  • Fertilize container plants with a half-strength liquid houseplant fertilizer every two weeks.
  • Set containers of tender perennial carnations outside in summer and bring them in to overwinter.


  • Carnations grown indoors will still die back and go dormant over winter. Annual varieties must be replanted each spring.

About the 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.