Growing and Care of Carnation flowers
Carnation flowers are among the top ten cut flowers worldwide. Flowers of Carnation are valued for its keeping quality, wide array of colours and forms and ability to rehyderate after long transportation. These qualities form the basis of many floral arrangements and mixed bouquets. Carnations have many characteristics which suit today’s consumers and markets, including larger blooms, pleasant clove- scented fragrance and a long vase life. Carnation flowers are also used for bedding, pots, rock gardens, window boxes and edging. In the western countries , although Carnations are sold all the year round, they are more in demand on Valentine’s Day, Easter , Mother’s day and during Christmas.
Carnations are indigenous to the Mediterranean areas. They are grown on a large scale in Italy, Spain, Columbia, Kenya, SriLanka, Canary Islands, France, Holland Germany, Israel and USA. Due to the high cost of production in greenhouses in Europe and USA, the cultivation of Carnations is shifting to more naturally growing areas where they are being produced at lesser cost. Owing to its ever increasing demand in the world market, high quality Carnations are also being cultivated in India. The major production centers are located around Pune and Bangalore. Carnations are now being commercially grown in Solan, Shimla, Mandi, Kullu, Chamba and Bilaspur districts in Himachal Pradesh.
Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus L) is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant, belonging to the family Caryophyllaceae. It has been under cultivation by man for over 2000 years. The common name Carnation (Latin, Carnatio, from caro; carnis, flesh) is believed from a Greek word ‘Coronation’ because these flowers were used in decorating the crowns of Greek athletes.
There are about 250-300 species of Dianthus comprises annuals and evergreen perennials but only a few are cultivated. The most common cultivated species are D. caryophyllus, D. barbatus and D. chinensis.
The D. chinensis (Annual Carnation) is commonly known as Indian pink, Chinensis or Japanese pink. These are cool season crop not performing well in heat and humidity. The plants are glabrous, leaves are flat and broad and petals are hairy towards base. These are excellent for beds, borders, edging, rock gardens, pots etc. The two most commonly grown varieties are heddewigii, the Japanese Pink (D. chinensis var. heddewigii) and lacinatus, the fringed pink (D. chinensis var. lacinatus).
The species D. barbatus (Biennial Carnation) is commonly known as Sweet William, grows mostly from seeds and prefers warm climate. The stems are glabrous; leaves are opposite, broad and flat. The flowers are solitary.
The present day perpetual Carnation was developed from cross between D. caryophyllus (female parent) and D. chinensis (male parent). They are grouped into standard and spray types on the basis of flower size. The standard type produces large single flowers on a longer sturdy stem. They suffer from diseases when grown under warm humid climates. The spray or miniature types produce many flowers of a smaller size on a short stem and are suitable to warm climates.