Carnation flower bulbs - choosing, buying and planting

Climate and soil:
Carnations perform best in relatively cool climate. It is a long day plant requires approximately 21.5 K lux sunshine for at least 8 hours a day. Temperature is a major factor that influences the growth and flowering, colour, grade and the quality of cut flowers. The location having a day temperature of 10 o c is good for high quality Carnations. The optimum temperature for production of standard Carnation is 18o-23oc. High temperature and high humidity produce inferior quality flowers. The optimum humidity for growing Carnation is between 50-65 %.When humidity is higher; plants become susceptible to fungal diseases like Alternaria and Botrytis. High light intensity and very low humidity are detrimental to a young crop and may cause leaf burning and weak foliage. It leads to infection of parasites such as red spider mites.

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Selection of site is very important for successful Carnation cultivation. Since roots of Carnation are highly susceptible to poor drainage conditions, it needs well drained and aerated soil. The growth of roots in heavy soil is very much restricted and adversely affects the growth of plants and quality of flowers.

A rich sandy loam or loam soil is ideal for its cultivation. Soils having higher silt or clay content should be amended by incorporating organic matter or compost. The pH 6-7 and EC 0.8-1.6 ms/cm at 25 0c is ideal. Both higher and lower pH has been found to show adverse effects on flower production. The site selected for plantation should be free from weeds, nematodes or soil born pathogens. Preplant sterilization with stem, sun or 5% formalin is beneficial. Reused soils may contain many pathogens especially Fusarium, which makes some beds unsuitable for Carnation cultivation even after disinfection.

Perpetual flowering Carnations are multiplied vegetatively by means of soft terminal cuttings while seed propagation is normally practiced for the purpose of hybridization. For successful cut flower production, choose Carnations with well developed roots having minimum four leaves and not developed any flower bud. Cuttings should be of about10-15 cm long for standard cultivars and 8-10 cm long for spray types, disease free and of best commercial variety. Leaves should be free from any fungal spot.

Planting Carnation flowers

Soft terminal cuttings from healthy mother plant having vigorous root should be planted at shallow depth. Deep planting of cuttings may cause root and stem rot. During planting keep the base of the cutting above the soil level as they were in the rooting medium to ensure rapid development. To obtain the maximum no. of flowers, planting time and plant density are very important. When planted for commercial scale, raised beds of 30 cm height, 1.05 m width and convenient length are preferred. A planting density of around 32 plants /m2 (15x20 cm spacing) is generally recommended for 2-year production. When it is planted in pots, a single plant can be planted in 7.5 cm pots containing a potting mixture of equal parts of soil & well rotten F.Y.M. and half part of sand.

Carnation - season and cycle

Planting schedule is important to produce the maximum number of excellent quality flowers. Carnation produces heavy flush of flowers during a short period of time, which is not desirable for commercial production. Therefore it is regulated through planting time, planting density and method of pinching of plants. In Northern plains of India planting is done during mid September- November, which produces flower during February to April. In hilly areas where there is no snowfall, October-February planting is suitable to obtain flowers during mid-April to mid July and in hilly areas having seasonal snowfall, planting is done during February- April to get flowers from August- October. In protected conditions, Carnations can be planted round the year.

Carnation growing period

Carnation flowers take approx.150-180 days from planting to flower under open conditions and 120-150 days under protected conditions depending upon the season. The main propagating season of Carnation extends from November to March. Perpetual Carnations are mostly planted on a 2 year cycle after which their yield decreases.