Dianthus deltoides is a spectacular first-year-flowering perennial that forms a dense evergreen mat around 10cm (4in) tall. The real joy of this plant comes from late spring when a seemingly impossibly large number of flowers are borne in quick succession giving several months of both colour and clove-like scent. Whilst at times sporadic, flowering can carry on until mid September and beyond.
Dianthus deltoides ‘Microchips’ has glaucous blue-green foliage that is blanketed with hundreds of large flowers with serrated petal tips in shades of white, pink and rosy-red with crimson rings. The flowers appear in abundance, just poking their heads above the foliage. In the early morning dew or after a shower of rain they sparkle like diamonds.
This quite exceptional little plant will and grow up to 50cm (20in) wide, it covers bare spots quickly. Heat tolerant and hardy to minus 35°C (30°F), they are at their best in full sun but will also grow in part shade. The plants will tolerate a wide range of soils provided they are well drained.
Dianthus deltoides look at home at the front of the border or tucked amongst boulders in a rock garden. They can be grown in large groups for underplanting or used as a ground cover in gravel gardens or to edge a path or walkway. Use them for sloping areas or plant in crevices or on top of walls. They also make an attractive addition to container gardens.
Sowing: Sow February to June or September to October.
Sow seed on the surface of a good, free-draining, damp seed or multipurpose compost. Do not cover the seeds as light aids germination, but tightly press into the compost.
Place the container in a propagator or seal inside a polythene bag and place at 16 to 20°C (60 to 68°F). Germination usually takes 14 to 30 days. Keep in cooler conditions after germination occurs. Transplant to 9cm (3in) pots to grow on and transplant outdoors once the plant is established. Overwinter September sowings in a coldframe and plant out the following spring.
Most dianthus species and cultivars require full sun for their best flowering. They do best in neutral to alkaline soil that drains well. Dianthus do not tolerate wet soil well, particularly in winter so don't plant them in a low spot where water collects and keep mulch away from the plants. Overwatering and heavy clay soils are the kiss of death, quickly killing the plants from stem rot.
Mix in plenty of well-rotted organic matter when planting and apply a balanced liquid fertiliser once a month throughout spring and summer. Pinching out faded blooms with finger and thumb will encourage a second flush of flowers. Shear back the mounding ones to encourage repeated blooming.
Cottage/Informal/Natural Garden, Borders and Beds, Dry Gardens and Rockeries. Edible Flowers.
The flowers of Dianthus deltoides, Maiden Pinks are edible, most have a pleasant spicy, floral, clove-like taste and are ideal for decorating or adding to cakes. They make a colourful garnish to soups, salads and the punch bowl. It is advisable to remove the white heel at the base of the petal as this has a bitter taste.
The petals add zest to ice cream, sorbets, salads, fruit salad and dessert sauces and give beautiful results when crystallised or if used as an edible garnish. The colours are vivid and the effect is transforming. Suddenly a plain salad looks like a show-stopper.
Dianthus deltoides is a species of Dianthus native to most of Europe and western Asia. It is a plant of often calcareous grassland but may also be found on rocky ground and occasionally on old mine spoil.
Dianthus was named by Greek botanist, Theophrastus. He named them from the Greek dios meaning ‘divine’ and anthos ‘flower’, meaning ‘God’s flower’.
The species name deltoides means ‘roughly triangular shape’ and refers to the shape of the petals. The word is taken from the Greek words delta meaning ‘triangular’ and oides , meaning ‘resembling’. An easy way to remember this description is by remembering the shape of the Greek letter ‘Delta’ - Δ is triangular, or that the ‘deltoid’ muscle - is the triangular muscle on the human shoulder.
Dianthus deltoides are often commonly called Maiden Pinks because each stem carries only one flower. Many Dianthus are called 'pinks.' Not due to their colour which can also be white, but to the distinct cut edge that the flowers have. The verb 'pink' dates from the 14th century and means 'to decorate with a perforated or punched pattern' (maybe from German 'picken' = to peck), coming from the frilled edge of the flowers. This verb sense is also used in the name of pinking shears.
Interestingly, the colour pink may be named after the dianthus flower.
The word ‘carnation’ is derived from the Latin word coronae, meaning 'coronations'. Coronations were decorative, woven flower strings worn on the head like a headband that are often pictured as being worn by young maidens.
The cultivar ‘Flashing Light’ is also known as 'Leuchtfunk' and 'Confetti Deep Red'
The genus Dianthus consists of over 300 species, including the well-known Carnations and Sweet Williams, several hundred named cultivars and innumerable hybrids.
- D. barbatus, known as Sweet William, this is a biennial plant that sometimes behaves as a short lived perennial. At 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) tall, it blooms in a wide range of fragrant coloured blossoms and as such has been a garden favorite for over 300 years.
- D. caryophyllus, the ancestor of most of the modern garden carnations. When you see a perennial carnation in your local garden centre, it is most often from this species.
- D. chinensis varieties are often sold in garden centers as perennials although many are not reliably hardy in cold areas. They can be treated as hardy annuals unless you live in a warm zone.
- D. deltoides is a common plant in garden centers because of the ease of starting it from seed. Use it at the front of the border or in gravel or rock gardens.
- D. grataniapolitensis or Cheddar Pink grows to 30cm (12in) and is a delightfully fragrant soft pink colour.
- D. knappii is called the Yellow Pink. At 60cm (24in) tall with soft yellow flowers that bloom for several long weeks, it is worth a place in any garden.
- D. plumarius is the plant most often referred to as a 'Pink' and is a good performing plant. They are shorter than many types of Dianthus so plant them in rock garden sites or protected from aggressive plants in the border.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 25mg Average Seed Count 100 Seeds Seeds per gram 4,000 seeds / gram Family Caryophyllaceae Genus Dianthus Species deltoides Cultivar Microchips Common Name Maiden Pink. Other Language Names FR: Oeillet des landes Hardiness Hardy Perennial Hardy Hardy to minus 35°C (30°F Flowers White, red, rose, salmon, pink and crimson. Natural Flower Time From late spring to early autumn Foliage Low mounds of deep green foliage Height 10cm (4in) Spread 50cm (20in) Position Full sun for best flowering Soil A wide range of soils provided they are well drained. Time to Sow February to June or September to October. Germination 14 to 30 days at 16 to 20°C (60 to 68°F).