Guide to Carnation Flowers
1.1 What is the meaning of the carnation flower and what do they symbolise?
Carnations are one of the most colour subjective flower when it comes to flower symbolism. In general they are known to represent admiration and fascination but this is limited. Coloured carnations refer to:
- Red Carnations: Love, Romance. Red is a passionate colour, and red carnations, tulips and roses are three of the most traditional flowers for romance.
- Purple Carnations: Apologies, regret. A purple carnation is ideal for a makeup gesture within a relationship.
- Yellow Carnations: Yellow is a joyous, happy colour often symbolic of friendship. Not when it comes to carnations – unless you want to tell the recipient you’re not interested in seeing her anymore or are disappointed with them, avoid yellow or striped carnations.
1.2 What occasions are best to give carnation flowers as a gift?
The following are both traditional and common dates and scenarios where carnations are given as gifts:
- Mother’s Day: Carnations, especially pink ones, are the iconic flower of Mother’s Day. If you’re stumped for flowers next time Mother’s Day rolls by, order in a nice bouquet of pink carnation flowers.
- Weddings: Since white carnations are symbols of purity, innocence and virtue, they make the ideal wedding bouquet flower. Carnations are one of the most timely and frequently used flower for wedding functions and receptions.
- St. Patrick’s Day: We all know that alcohol intoxication is the most common way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but for decorating and gifting, green carnations and shamrocks are the St. Patrick’s official flora.
1.3 How long do carnations from a florist live for?
If you simply throw the carnations with stems untouched into a vase or container of water, you can expect a few days of bloom life before the carnations begin to wilt. If you want to make your carnations last for weeks and potentially even a month, they’re going to need food, pH maintenance and pruning.
Food wise, carnations simply need a little sugar in the water to replicate the natural nutrients they would receive from soil. It doesn’t match to the real thing, but it’s a fair substitute.
For pH, citrus or vinegar are suitable components to higher or lower the pH levels. The ideal pH for carnations is typically around 6.5.
Pruning carnations is simply – if there are any dead limbs or leave, simply trim or remove them.
1.4 What different type of carnation species are there?
When buying carnations online, make sure you know whether you’re getting large-flowered, dwarf-flowered or mini-flowered carnations. Large flowered have a single head off each stem, mini-flowered are similar but with smaller heads and stigma, while dwarf-flowered have up to 8 miniature heads sprouting from each stem, creating a cluster of petals similar to the hydrangea flower.
Below the main three categories, there are subtle variations – primarily in colours which distinguish the species of carnation. Examples include the barbizon, festival, minaret, lunaret, panorama and veritas.
1.5 What conditions do carnations need to grow?
Part of the appeal of carnations is there adaptability to a wide range of conditions and environments to grow in. This has contributed to their global popularity.
Climate: Carnations are a hardy genus, but can not survive frosty winters. Like most flowers, they thrive in the temperate environment which Australia offers. They need as much sunlight as possible, but can still survive when it is limited. Half a day in maximum sunlight is satisfactory.
Soil: Carnations thrive in fertile soil leaning towards alkaline acidity, anywhere between 6.5-7.0 on the pH scale. Avoid rocky and clay soils.
Planting: Plant each stem or seed ~30cm apart. You may be after a desired look and plant them closer, but they grow at their strongest when given space, sunlight and a flat, well-drained area. Carnation seeds are typically planted in early Autumn in time to bloom for a spring and summer bouquet of carnations.
Fertilizer: A readmission of general purpose fertilizer is recommended every couple of months to maintain fertile soil.
Insects & Disease: General insecticide is recommended, as well as anything which keeps rodents away. The crowns of carnations are desirable treats to nibble on for creatures. Carnations are susceptible to disease and infection as they grow in tight meadows and can be difficult to administer pesti/insecticides on a wide scale. See here for a comprehensive insight into diseases which affect carnations.
Height at Bloom: Carnations grow surprisingly tall, at 45-60 cm including stem. Because only the flower heads are used in certain arrangements such as bridal bouquets, the height is often underestimated. A single carnation stem can look striking and elegant in a vase.
Watering:Watering carnations is easy – If the plant begins to dry out and wilt, just like any plant this is a sign of dehydration. However, you will find out if the plant has been overwatered as the petals will begin to turn a yellowy tinge. Carnations typically only need light watering.