Carnation flowers are one of the more beautiful flowers used by florists when creating arrangements like boutonnieres, corsages and bouquets. Carnation flowers can be red, pink, white, purple, green and more. The popularity of the carnation is largely due to their beauty, but also because they are long lasting.
Carnations also have the ability to rehydrate; this water absorption helps vitalize them after long transportation. Carnation flowers can stay fresh and beautiful longer than other flowers. This is a reason why carnations are so popular on special occasions like Valentine’s Day and mother’s day.
The scientific name of the carnation flower is “Dianthus," which is what florists and biologists in the scientific community commonly refer to them as. Dianthus was the name originally given to the flower by a Greek botanist named Theophrastus.
Theophrastus studied under Plato, and his works in botany significantly influenced medieval science and plant cultivation. The official scientific name of the carnation is Dianthus caryophyllus.
The complete scientific classification of the carnation goes as follows:
The carnation has a rich history, originating in the southern parts of Europe and the Mediterranean areas. England is believed to be one of the first countries to cultivate the carnation for its aesthetic beauty. However, the carnation has been cultivated for thousands of years, so its exact origin is unknown.
The carnation was also cultivated by the ancient Greeks and the Romans. The carnation has since spread to all corners of the globe and is one of the most popular decorative flowers used.
Description and Characteristics
Carnations received their name from the Greek words “dios,” which referred to the Greek God Zeus, and "anthos" meaning flower. When combined, the carnation’s original meaning is “The Flower of God.” However, it is also thought that the term carnation came from the Latin word “carnis,” meaning flesh.
Currently there are between 250 and 300 species of carnations, coming in a wide-variety of different colors which symbolize different feelings. Carnation plants typically grow to heights of eighty centimeters, and have slender leaves that can reach sizes of up to fifteen centimeters. A carnation produces up to five sweet smelling flowers, each reaching sizes of three to five centimeters in diameter.
The color of the carnation’s flowers can be green, blue, purple, red, white and yellow. It is possible to turn carnations any color you wish by adding dye to the water you give white carnations.
Carnations come in three main types,
- Large flowered carnations that grows with one big flower on every stem.
- Spray carnations that grow with multiple smaller flowers on each stem.
- Dwarf flowered carnation which are the smallest of the three.
Dwarf carnations consist of many flowers that grow on one stem. The large flowering carnation is the most popular carnation because of their beautiful flowers.
A carnation’s flower is said to symbolize the different array of emotions capable of being felt by women, and each different color represents a specific emotion.
Red carnations represent the feeling of admiration.
Pink carnations are a symbol of true love, making pink carnations a very popular choice when Valentine’s Day comes around.
The white carnation is a representation of purity and good fortune.
Purple carnations symbolize a woman’s caprice.
The blue carnation is a symbol of peace and tranquility, but blue carnations also are a representation of truth, making them a popular choice when couples select flower arrangements for weddings.
Cultivation and Care
Growing carnations can be quite easy if the proper steps are completed. Carnations need to be grown in well draining sandy loom soil that is slightly alkaline to thrive. They also require plenty of sunlight. There are some facts about carnations that anyone wishing to personally cultivate the flower should know.
The most popular form of cultivation is by growing the flowers from cuttings. However, it is also possible for grow them by germinating seeds and loosely sowing them into damp soil. Here is a list of the basic cultivation facts about carnations, involving producing viable cuttings for growing carnations from existing carnation plants.
- It is most effective to take cuttings from around the base of the carnation stem
- You can take cuttings from your plants at any time during the year
- Cuttings taken in spring or summer generally have the best chances f surviving
- Root your cuttings in a sandy pot until it is ready to be transplanted outside
- It is important to spray your cuttings every day to prevent insect problems
Diseases and Pests
Insect problems are very common with carnations. One of the most frequently occurring problems is plants suffering from infestations of red spiders. Red spiders are especially attracted to carnation plants, for some reason. Carnations are also capable of suffering from bacterial diseases, parasites and fungus infections.
There are many different types of fungus infections, so anti-fungal sprays may be necessary to protect outdoor carnations. The Fusarium fungus is one of the most commonly occurring fungi associated with carnations, and can be totally destructive and contagious. Fusarium fungus can be prevented by being careful not to over water your flowers.
Carnation flowers also are popular for some of their other uses, besides just looking pretty. The carnation flower can be made into carnation oils and used in massage oils.
Carnation oil is popular because it helps promote relaxation. These massage oils are used because it is said that they promote skin regeneration, make skin softer and leave a sweet and soothing scent on the skin. Carnations have also been used to treat skin irritation and rashes. Carnation oil is also popular for making sweet smelling perfume.
Carnations have been used for centuries in tea. Carnation tea was very popular in ancient China for its ability to relax the spirit and promote energy and vitality. Carnation teas often include all of the carnation plant, from its flowers to its petals and roots. Carnations have been used to reduce muscle tension, and were often used to treat irritating menstrual cramps.
Homeopathic remedies were also used by the ancient Aztecs, who mixed the plant’s flowers with hot water and drank the brew. They also used carnations for treating symptoms like chest congestion and diseases by mixing measured amounts of the flowers and their petals with sugar, and then boiling the mix over an extended period of time.
In addition, carnations have also been used to treat the following:
- Facial wrinkles
- Stomach aches
- Rosacea and eczema
- Uterine tissue tension
- Stress, anxiety and nervousness
Click thumbnails to see pictures: