This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Greek for Jove's flower). Caryophylla-ceae. Pink. Small herbs, many of them prized for their rich and showy flowers in the open garden; and one is the carnation. Some of them are deliriously fragrant.
Mostly perennials forming tufts and with grasslike leaves, and jointed stems with terminal flowers and opposite leaves From kindred genera Dianthus is distinguished by the sepal-like bracts at the base of a cylindrical calyx (Figs. 802, 803); petals without a crown; styles 2: caps, opening by 4 valves. Mostly temperate-region plants, of S. Eu. and N. Africa, but occurring elsewhere, one of them (a form of D. alpinus) being native in N. Amer.; about 250 species are recognized. The flowers are usually pink or red, but in garden forms white and purple are frequent colors. Most of the cult, species are hardy in the N. and are easy of cultivation The perennial species are excellent border plants. The chief care required in their cult, is to see that the grass does not run them out. Best results in flowering are secured usually from 2-year-old seedling plants. The genus abounds in attractive species, and other names than those in this article may be expected to appear in the catalogues. Numbers of species are likely to be grown by rock-garden specialists. Pinks are among the old-fashioned flowers, particularly D. plumarius, which was formerly common in edgings and in circle-beds. The sweet williams are always popular.
All the species described in this article are perennial, but there are a few annuals in the genus but apparently not in cultivation Two weedy annual species, D. prolifer, Linn., and D. Armeria, Linn., are naturalized in the eastern states, and two or three others have run wild more or less. See E. T. Cook, "Carnations, Picotees, and the Wild and Garden Pinks," London, 1905. See p. 3568.
Dianthuses like a warm soil, and one that will not become too wet at any time, especially in winter, when the perennial kinds are grown, as they are often killed not so much from cold as from too much ice around them. Snow is the best possible protection, but ice is the reverse. - All dianthuses are readily propagated from seeds sown in rich soil (usually beginning to bloom the second year), but the double kinds are reproduced from cuttings alone to be sure to have them true, and in the fall months cuttings are easily rooted if taken with a "heel" or a part of the old stem adhering to the base of the shoot; so that to make cuttings it is best to strip them off rather than to make them with a knife. It will be found, also, that cuttings made from plants growing in the open ground do not root readily but seem to dry up in the cutting-bench; if the plants to be increased are carefully lifted and potted, placed in a temperature of say 50° until young growth shows signs of starting, every cutting taken off at this stage will root easily. The transition from outdoors to the propa-gating-house should not be too abrupt. Another method of propagation is by layering, and with the garden pinks, or forms of D. plumarius, it is the easiest and surest.
After hot weather is past, stir the soil round the parent plant, take the branches that have a portion of bare stem, make an incision half way through and along the stem for an inch, and peg this down in the soil without breaking off the shoot (Fig. 809). Roots will be formed and good strong plants be the result before winter. The layering method is specially suitable to such species as D. plumarius, D. Caryophyllus and double forms of others, such as sweet william. - Among the species are various pretty little alpine tufted sorts as D. neglectus, D. glacialis and D. alpinus, all of which are of dwarf close habit, not exceeding 3 inches high and having very large single flowers of brightest colors. These are suited only for rock-gardening, as on level ground they often become smothered with weeds or swamped with soil after a heavy rainstorm, and to these two causes are attributable the failures to cultivate them. (E. O. Orpet.) a. Flowers mostly in cymes or in heads, often densely aggregated, the cluster often subtended by involucrelike Ivs. B. Petals not bearing hairs or barbs: bracts dry.
A foot high, woody at base, many-stemmed, the stems simple and 4-angled, blooming in Aug. and Sept.: Ivs. linear, sharp-pointed and rigid, 7-nerved: flowers few in heads; petals fiery red above, paler beneath, glandular; stamens included. Greece. - Handsome little species; useful for hardy border or rockery.
(D. stenopetalus variety Pancicii, Williams). Cespitose, glabrous, 2-3 ft., the stems slender and 4-angled: Ivs. linear-acuminate, soft, 3-nerved, in a dense grass-like basal tuft: flowers 5-15 in a paniculate cyme or head; calyx green; petals rose or crimson. Balkan region. variety grandiflorus, Hort., has very stout stems, large clusters, and large purple - carmine flowers
bb. Petals with hairs or barbs on the lower part of the blade.
c. Plant glabrous but usually not glaucous.