Pinks

May 4, 2024

Pinks are not called Pinks because they are pink.  Rather, their petals’ jagged edges appear as if they were cut with a pair of pinking shears.

The other common name for Pinks is Carnations. Their proper or botanical name is Dianthus.  For me, and I suspect for most who work in the horticulture field, the shorter dwarf Dianthus will be called Pinks, while the taller Dianthus are called Carnations.

The Pinks in our backyard have just opened up in vibrant, bold pink.  The variety is ‘Tiny Rubies,’ growing only a few inches high (5 to 8 cm) and one of the earliest to flower.  The slightly fragrant flowers open wide,  covering the dainty leaves below.

Like most early flowering perennials, dwarf Pinks put on a fabulous show but only for a short few weeks, likely less than a month.  Cut them back after flowering and they will continue to bloom sporadically throughoutt the remainder of spring and into summertime.

If pink is not your favorite colour, Pinks are also found in red and white, and all shades and blends in between.

Cottage Pinks are a group of Pinks that grow to 30 or 40 cm high.  Fowers appear in late spring to early summer, and longer lasting than their dwarf counterparts.  Prune off the spent flowers in mid-summer and you will be rewarded with more blooms in fall.

At the taller end of the scale are Carnations, flowering in summertime, along with the popular Shasta Daisies, Coneflower and Rudbeckia.  Carnations are popular with florists because they will outlast any other flower in a vase.

Once the flowers of Pinks disappear or are cut off, leaves are revealed in greyish, greenish, bluish colour.  Leaves are not particularly attractive, so I recommend planting a few Pinks here and there rather than in mass plantings.

Pinks like to grow in a sunny warm location.  Plant in good garden soil that drains easily.  Pinks don’t like to be waterlogged and can withstand long periods without water.

Pinks are most often bought as perennials and planted in spring.  Some varieties can be found as seeds, available in seed racks along with annuals and vegetables.  If you plant a potted Pinks in spring, within three or 4 years, it will have spread into a small mound that could be divided and shared with your gardening friends.