How to Grow and care for Carnation

How to Grow and care for Carnation


How to Grow and care for Carnation

in this article, I’m going to show you How to Grow and care for Carnation. Carnations belongs to the genus dianthus of the family Caryophyllaceae and are native to Eurasia. Carnations are among the top ten cut flowers worldwide. They may also be grown as garden plants for landscaping and as bedding plants. However growing them commercially as a cut flower. Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus) have many characteristics as a major cut flower which suit today’s consumers and markets, including a wide range of colours, a pleasant, clove-scented fragrance and a long vase-life. Although carnations may have competitions from other crops, these characteristics offer breeders, growers and marketers tremendous opportunities to increase their carnation business.


Climatic Conditions

Carnations can be grown between 200-300m above sea level. Day temperature required ranges between 20-25°C relative humidity should be 50-60%. Sub-tropical climatic conditions would ideally suit the cultivation of Carnations. Temperature is a major factor that influences growth, colour, grading and quality of cut flowers.

They can be grown under full sunlight. However, plants should be preferably grown under polythene tunnels or greenhouses with plastic sheet roofs in the wet zone

Growing Media and Planting System

Growing media should be well-drained and able to retaining air sufficient water. The pH range should be 5.5-6.5 and the EC range 0.8-1.6 MS/cm. the following mixtures may be used when cultivated in beds or pots. However, bed culture is commonly practised in commercial cultivations.

Topsoil: Dry cattle manure: Sand 4:1: ½  or topsoil: Dry cattle manure: Sand: Coir dust 1:1:1:1or top soils dry cattle manure: Paddy husk: Sand 6: 3: 1: 1 or coir dust: Sand 1:1

Carnations are generally planted in raised beds (6-9” height) with beds constructed according to available length and 1m in breadth 30-36 plants may be planted per sq. meter with plants spaced 5” apart A planting density of around 32 plants/m2 (15×20cm spacing) is generally recommended for 2-year production. Nylon wire mesh is used as supports for plants in beds and mesh has to be supported by stakes fixed at the four corners of the beds.

The first layer of supportive wire mesh is placed 5/6 inches (12.5-15cm) above the soil surface and subsequently, 4-5 layers may be placed above. The layers of wire mesh are places together and subsequently, all layers except the one at the bottom are gradually lifted as plants grow

Topping/Pinching and Disbudding

How to Grow and care for Carnation

Pinching is practised to harvest at least 30 flowers per plant. Pinching refers to removing the shoot tip and encouraging the growth of side shoots, single, one and a half and double pinches may be practised depending on the requirement of crop spread. Ideal time for pinching is in the morning. When the plant attains 5 nodes, the first pinch is given by removing the terminal soot tip (single pinch). This would give rise to six lateral shoots. With a “one and a half pinch” or “pinch and a half”, 2-3 shoots are pinched again. For the “double pinch” all the lateral shoots are pinched off.

However, the pinch and a half is usually practised to obtain staggered flowering to suit market requirements. In such cases 2-3 shoots are pinched again 1 month after the first pinch when 5 nodes have formed on the new lateral shoots.

Disbudding is the removal of side buds so that the central/terminal bud receives maximum food for full development. Side buds are removed in the case of standard carnations and the terminal bud has to be removed in spray carnations.


Mist irrigation is recommended for the first 3 weeks after planting. Subsequent to 3 weeks of planting drip irrigation is ideal at 4-5 L/m²

Clean freshwater avoid of chlorine is recommended. Hand watering can also be practised for small cultivation. Watering is best in the morning.


Marco-elements N, P and K may be provided by mixing of Ammonium sulphate, Muriate of Potash and Triple Super Phosphate. Initially, a mixture of these chemical compounds to provide N:P:K at a ratio of 1:1:1 is applied as a basal dressing. Subsequently, the following may be added as a top dressing.

Ammonium sulphateN4-5 Kg/100sq. m once in 3 weeks
Triple Super PhosphateP04 Kg/100sq. m once in 6 weeks
Muriate of PotashK09 Kg/100sq. m once in 4 weeks

Additionally a balanced fertilizer mixture (N:P:K  at  1:1:1) in pellet form or Albert’s solution at 2-4 Kg/100 sq. m may be applied at 2-4 week intervals. When coir dust only is used as a growing medium balanced N:P:K mixture or Albert’s solution should be applied in the liquid form once in 3 days (1/2 Tsp/05 L water) or as 10g fertilizer per plant once in 3 days


How to Grow and care for Carnation

Propagation is mainly through cuttings. Micropropagation is widely used to produce virus-free stock plants during initial multiplications subsequently cuttings are obtained from these in vitro propagated plants. Cutting may either taken from the flowering stock or from plants that are grown for cuttings alone. (The best cuttings are taken from the flowering stock are those from near the middle of the flower forming stem). When large amounts of plants are required however for commercial planting, a part of the stock is specially grown for cuttings alone. Plants are not allowed to flower and shoots are cut off about 6-7 nodes above the soil surface for use as cuttings.

Cuttings are trimmed of most of the foliage before being inserted into the rooting medium of coir dust mixed with sand at a ratio of 1:1. A smooth cut is made at the base of the cutting near the node so that the lower pair of leaves readily pee off leaving half an inch of clear stem to be inserted into the rooting medium. It has been reported that terminal cuttings of 5-10cm, when treated with N A A at 500ppm for 5 minutes, induces quick rooting. High humidity levels may be provided by keeping cuttings in a polythene propagator. Once rooted hardening young plants may be beneficial although not essential

Diseases and Pests

Insect Pests

The most common insect that affects cut flower carnations are red spider mites, aphids and trips. Red spider mites caused much harm in greenhouses, where it spreads quickly if unchecked. They puncture the undersurface of leaves to suck out the contents and initial damage is usually the appearance of pale blotches on the upper leaf surface. The leaves lose their waxy covering become dull, turn yellow and die.

Red spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions. Shading the greenhouse/polytunnel to reduce temperatures and raising the level of humidity helps in mitigating the incidence of mite infestation. Maximum ventilation is necessary, as humidity can encourage the growth of fungal infections. Simultaneously, mites may be treated with acaricides, spraying the foliage and watering the growing medium. Repeated spraying at 7-10 days intervals is required to destroy the next cycle of mites. Locally available acaricides include Abamectin 18/I EC, Sulphur 80% WP/WG, Azadirachtin 10g/I EC, Neem seed water extract or Hexythiazox 10% WP.

Aphids and thrips are tiny winged insects that are sapsuckers. There are several varieties, the onion thrip attacks unopened buds of carnations, leaving the flower to emerge with ugly, pale blotches where the colour pigment has been sucked out. Aphids suck the sap, particularly from juicy young shoots, leaving sticky honeydew and make plants unsightly. They also easily transmit viruses. Imidacloprid 200g/I SL  5ml/101 or Fipronil 50g/1SC  10ml/101 carefully applied according to labelled instruction will help in controlling these pests.

Thrips breed outdoors and in polytunnels/greenhouses, laying their eggs on the calyx; the developing nymphs cause the damage. Thrips are especially prevalent during a hot dry period.


Root and stem rots are caused by various fungal pathogens such as Fusarium, Phytophthora Pythium and Rhizoctonia, generally stem rot is noticed at the soil line and high up on the plant (Roots and base of stem continue to rot subsequently tops wilt and die). Plants affected by root rot are stunted, particularly in lower, poorly drained areas. When uprooted are can see rootlets are also rotted. Steam sterilizing or fumigating the soil, improved drainage of the growing medium and proper water management helps in preventing disease occurrences. Root and stem rot may be controlled by application of Captan 50% WP, Thiram 80%WP or Chlorothalonil 500g/I SC/ 75% WP following labelled instruction.

Rust caused by Uromycs Diantha is a common disease of dianthus. Small brownish marks may be seen on both sides of leaves that split open, they are pustules of powdery brown spores. Spores are airborne. infected leaves should be removed and burnt. Subsequently, hands and tools used in the process of removing infected leaves should be washed prior to touching healthy plants.

Adequate ventilation will help prevent rust since it prefers warm, damp conditions. Resistant cultivars may be used when available plants may be treated with cupric oxide or dusting with a  fungicide containing Bitertanol 300 g/I SC, Mancozeb 80% WP/75% WP, Tebuconazole 250g/I EC or Chlorothalonil 75% WP/ 500g/I SC.

Leaf spots are observed in two forms while one is marked by small, purple spots with yellow margins that develop black powdery spores, eventually destroying whole leaves; the other is caused by Alternaria dianthi or A. dianthicola and shows brown spots with purple margins develop on leaves and leads to branch rot as well. Warm, damp conditions are conducive to leaf spot diseases. Providing good air circulation and keeping humidity low helps mitigate the disease. Irrigation should be done early in the morning and foliage should not be wet with irrigation water. Disease incidences may also be controlled by spraying with Mancozeb 80% WP, or Chlorothalonil 75% WP/ 500g/I SC or Thiophanate-methyl 70% WP/ 500g/I SC

Botrytis rot is also caused by warm, humid conditions, Gray mould causes a grey, powdery mould to form on soft,  brown, decayed blossoms. Old flowers should be removed from the growing area and destroyed appropriately to prevent disease spread. Horizontal air movement should be maintained and humidity reduced where possible. Mist spraying flowers with Mancozeb 80% WP, Maneb 80% WP or Chlorothalonil 500 g/I SC would also help in its control. However, care should be taken to make sure that patches of agro-chemicals or residues do not remain of flowers.

Wilt diseases includes

Bacterial wilt caused by pseudomonas caryophyllene which causes plants to wilt suddenly, with the stem becoming brownish and slimy. Basal stems crack and roots may be rotted. Vascular discolouration in stems is seen  with stems  turning yellowish to brown and the outer layer separates easily from stem

 Fusarium wilt is a fungal disease caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Dianthi. It causes the plant to become stunted and discoloured, though the stems do not become slimy. Yellowing and wilting of branches frequently occur on one side at first. Root system usually remains intact. In late stages, stem develops a dry, shredded rot and infected parts die.

Verticillium wilt is a fungal disease causing leaves to turn straw-coloured and side shoots to twist. Gradual wilting of plants and brown discolouration of vascular systems may be seen.

Growing plants in soilless or inert growing media such as coir dust as well as pots or bags or containers resting on polythene or any other mulch to prevent to contact with any surrounding soil or crop rotation are effective ways of preventing the incidence of wilt diseases.

When any of the above wilt disease symptoms appear, it is important to prevent its spread. Affected plants must be removed from the polytunnel and burned as quickly as possible. Surrounding soil needs to be sterilized or discarded as do any pots or containers in which infected plants are growing.

Carnations are frequently affected by viral diseases, although many cultivars may show no symptoms. When severely mottled or streaked leaves are observed. Plants should be uprooted and destroyed. Eradicating aphids, which spread viruses, or planting elite stock plants obtained from micro propagated/ in vitro grown planting material are the best methods of control.

Harvest, Post-Harvest Handling and Packaging

Carnation flowers take approx. 150-180 days to flower under open conditions and 120-150 days under protected conditions. They may be stored in a cooler at 5°C at least 8 hours and also cool temperature needs to be maintained when they are being transported.

Generally flowers are treated with a preservative solution to extend shelf life. Carnations may be pre-treated with an STS or 8 HQC based preservative at the temperature of 15-20°C. Subsequent to keeping in the preservative solution for 2 to 4 hours, flowers should be placed in a refrigerated room at 0-2°C for 12-24 hours.

Flowers can be stored for 3-4 weeks or more before marketing. In such situations, the flowers have to be packed in cardboard cartons lined with polyethene/ cellophane film. Cartons should have vent holes. Cartons packed with flowers should be pre-cooled open. The plastic/cellophane film is then loosely folded on top of the stems and the box is closed. These cartons are stored in cool chambers designed to maintained 0°C with good air circulation and constant relative humidity of 90-95%.

check out my other article:How to Grow Anthuriums and Earn Money

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *