Guest Column

Kathy’s Gardening Guide: Dianthus


Symbolizing admiration, happiness, and love, the Dianthus flower is blooming now, just in time for Valentine’s Day! These fragrant plants make beautiful gifts on their own or combined with other flowers in colorful bouquets. They are wonderful as splashes of color in a planter or garden and useful as bright borders to outline a landscape bed.

Dianthus flowers are available in pinks, purples, reds, and whites and have delicate blooms featuring five petals with fringed edges. These blooms can be a single color or multicolor. The blue-green leaves of Dianthus are long and thin, almost like blades of grass. Dianthus grows in clumps and varies from small groundcover plants to stems 30 inches tall.

Although Dianthus can tolerate partial shade, it is best to plant them in areas of full sun (at least 6 hours per day). Prepare for planting by digging a hole twice the size of the plant’s root ball. Space the plants at least 6 inches apart and use only a thin layer of mulch if any at all. It is important for the stems to have ample room for air circulation.

Dianthus prefers well drained soil, even bordering on slightly dry. Wait for the soil to feel dry to the touch before watering. Yellow leaves may be a sign of too much water!

Remove old blooms and leaves to encourage growth throughout the season. Dianthus blooms bring birds, bees, and other pollinators to the garden - enjoy watching the hummingbirds and butterflies that Dianthus may attract!

The leaves and stems of Dianthus plants should not be ingested and can be mildly irritating to human skin. Be sure to wear gloves when working with these plants and wash irritated skin with soap and water. Dianthus can be toxic to animals if eaten, possibly causing nausea, vomiting, or other digestive issues. Look for areas safe from roaming animals and children when planting Dianthus.

However, when grown organically, the blooms of Dianthus plants have both medicinal and culinary uses. They can be used as herbal diuretics or applied to the skin to treat infections or swelling. Dianthus blooms are edible for humans and often used as culinary garnishes. In ancient Rome, Dianthus flowers were used to flavor oils and wine. Their spicy fragrance and taste can add interest to salads, cake decorations, or syrups. Whether decorating a romantic plate or starring in a beautiful bouquet, Dianthus flowers are perfect for celebrating love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Flower of the Week: Dianthus

Please email Kathy at for any questions or gardening tips you would like to see in the future. For more information and ideas, visit Kathy’s Creative Gardens & Nursery, 196 N. Roscoe Blvd. The phone number is 904-655-7373.