Dianthus pinifolius is a rare and unusual dryland species with a very distinctive look. Native to Turkey and the Balkans and formerly known as Dianthus androsace, it is notable for its showy display of ruby-red, clustered flowers that are held high on wiry stems.
This intriguing dianthus forms compact mounds of blue-green, grass-like foliage. The leaves are rigid, linear, with short sheaths and give this species the common name of Pineleaf Dianthus.
In late spring to early summer, tall stems emerge from the foliage and grow to 20 to 30cm (8 to 12in) high from which dense heads of dark ruby red flowers erupt.
Dianthus pinifolius is a surprisingly tough plant. Hardy to minus 30°C (-22°F), it grows easily in most soil types so long as they are well drained, it tolerates drought and poor soil and thrives in hot, sunny spots. It repeat blooms if deadheaded immediately after blooming and the small, lightly fragrant flowers attract butterflies.
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.
Dianthus pinifolius is an unusual dryland species, native to Turkey and the Balkans
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 pinifolia means 'having pine-like or needle-like leaves'.
It has the common names of the Pineleaf Garden Pink or Pineleaf Dianthus, due to the similarities of the blue-green, grass-like foliage to pine needles.
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 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 are the China Pinks. 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 30mg Average Seed Count 50 Seeds Seeds per gram 1,800 seeds / gram Family Caryophyllaceae Genus Dianthus Synonym Formerly known as Dianthus androsace Common Name Pineleaf Pink Hardiness Hardy Perennial Hardy Hardy to minus 30°C (-22°F) Flowers Ruby-red, clustered flowers Natural Flower Time Late spring to early summer. Foliage Low mounds of blue-green foliage Height Flower stems: 30cm (12in) tall Spacing 30cm (12in) 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).