St. Charles Herald-Guide

Dianthus: bright choice for cool-season color

By Staff Report - October 12, 2006

Every year more and more choices are available for planting cool-season bedding plants to add color to landscapes during the fall and winter. October is a good time for planting many cool-season bedding plants that include garden mums, pansies, snapdragons, flowering kale/cabbage, petunias, dusty miller, calendula, delphinium, larkspur and dianthus. Certainly, the versatility and longevity of dianthus makes it one of the more ideal choices for containers, formal landscape designs and flower beds as well as for borders and cottage gardens.

There are several varieties of dianthus to choose from along with many new and improved hybrids. The improved hybrids tend to offer a more uniform color, larger flowers, longer blooming periods and are more heat tolerant. One of the best choices of dianthus is Telstar, which comes in a variety of colors such as purple, crimson rose, pink, scarlet and white.

Dianthus may be planted throughout November and until the first of March and perform best when planted in sunny locations that are well drained. However, they also like afternoon shade! Plants should be spaced 8 to 10 inches apart to achieve a full landscape effect.

Water fall-planted dianthus until they are well established. After that, winter rains should take care of them. Water spring-planted dianthus once a week, depending of course, on rainfall to promote continuous bloom. Two weeks after planting, provide bedding plants with a water soluble plant food fertilizer. Incorporate a granular slow release fertilizer throughout the beds after plants have become established. Dead heading or pinching off the old flower heads will help greatly to increase the flowering and attractiveness of the bed.

Dianthus: bright choice for cool-season color