Magazine article Sunset

The Dianthus Clan.Time to Plant Is Right Away

Magazine article Sunset

The Dianthus Clan.Time to Plant Is Right Away

Article excerpt

The dianthus clan . . . time to plant is right away

"The only plants in my garden to make it through last summer unscathed were my dianthus. They were beautiful, and the snails and earwigs never touched them.'

Tough and free-flowering, the Chinese pinks in this Californian's garden have the same virtues as border carnations and sweet Williams: all make vibrantly colored, easy-care spring-summer borders. You also can plant them in large containers, massed or with other plants.

In the mild-winter West, look for new varieties and old favorites in nurseries this month. Where winters are harsh, wait until frosts end to buy plants and put them in.

Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus), biennials treated as annuals, grow 4 to 20 inches tall, depending on strain. Tight clusters of flat flowers come in white, shades of red, and two-color combinations. The new Indian Carpet strain grows to 6 inches. Space plants about 8 inches apart.

Perennial border carnations (D. caryophyllus) grow 12 to 14 inches tall. Flowers come in nearly all colors except green and blue, and most varieties have a spicy fragrance. …

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