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How to Transplant Carnations

Dianthus, often called carnations, are a profusely blooming annual or perennial flower. Annual varieties produce for one year but the perennial varieties add color to the garden for several years. The intricate blossoms come in a range of colors, from white and pink to red and lavender. Carnations are often started indoors from seed or purchased as bedding plants at garden centers. Transplanting them to the garden properly ensures they continue to thrive and don't suffer too much shock from replanting.

Set carnations transplants outside during the daytime one week prior to transplanting. Bring them in each night and set them out again during the day. This gets them accustomed to outdoor conditions and prevents transplant shock.

Lay a 1-inch layer of compost over a garden bed. Till it into a 6-inch depth using a hoe or power tiller.

Dig the planting hole to the same depth as the nursery pot and about twice as wide. Space the holes 6 inches apart for dwarf carnations or 1 foot apart for regular carnations.

Remove the carnation transplant from the nursery pot. Set the root ball inside the planting hole so the plant sits in the soil at the same depth it was at in the nursery pot. Refill the hole with soil and lightly firm it around the plant.

Water the carnations thoroughly after planting. Continue to water weekly, providing about 1 inch of water to the bed each week.

Lay a 2-inch layer of mulch over the garden bed. Use organic mulch such as wood chips. Mulching prevents weeds in the carnation flower bed and also helps retain moisture in the soil.


Pinch off spent blossoms throughout the flowering season to help encourage further blooms. Perennial carnations benefit from a light fertilization with a general-purpose flower fertilizer.


Cover perennial carnations with a straw mulch in winter, otherwise freezing temperatures may damage the plants. Rabbits will eat carnations in the garden. If rabbits are a major concern, consider planting carnations in a protected bed or in hanging baskets.

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