Flower Glossary: Carnation

designsponge carnation flower glossary
A few years ago, I underwent a major flower transformation. After disliking the majority of carnations because of their relatively small heads (in relation to their long spindly stems), I started seeing new varieties that blew me away with their vivid colors and made me an instant fan. From deep velvety purples to nearly neon pinks, carnations come in so many incredible colors that make those washed out whites and pinks you often see at corner stores look like a totally different type of plant. The variety we chose above, Tropical Butterfly Carnations, looks stunning on its own in a vase, but would really knock some socks off in a huge grouping. That said, I’ve come around to the paler varieties of carnations as well and think those look pretty fantastic when grouped in large number, too. So whether you’re a long-time carnation fan or a recent convert like me, I hope this rundown of carnation information (ha!) will help you pick out a few for your next arrangement. xo, grace

Additional Information about the Carnation:

  • Full Name: Dianthus caryophyllus (Also known as “Clove Pink”)
  • Growing details: Carnations grow in bushes and prefer full sunlight. They can be grown year-round.
  • Varieties: There are countless varieties of carnations, but non-hybrids are known to have a distinctive clove scent. There are over 300 species and hundred more hybrid varieties. I prefer those with larger heads, like the ‘White Rabbit‘, ‘Queen of Hearts‘ and the multicolored’Chomley Farran‘ (what a great name).
  • Size: Carnations have long stems that range from 16-26 inches and smaller blossoms that average 2 inches in diameter.
  • Cost: Carnations are relatively inexpensive, with stems running around $1-$2 a stem.
  • Fun facts: Carnations are the traditional flower of Mother’s Day. Although Anna Jarvis, who was the force behind the founding of the holiday, despised the way the floral industry commercialized the selling of carnations for Mother’s Day.

Photograph by Maxwell Tielman

  1. Carnations never looked so good. Now if only my grocery store carried ones even half as glorious as these…:)

  2. Melissa says:

    Aww. Bring a tear to my eye. Always my mom’s favorite flower. My brothers could bring her a fancy floral arrangement but what would please her most was a simple bunch of carnations. I sure miss her.

  3. I am VERY pro carnation and hate that they have such bad rep // As long as you get a bundle in the right color, they can be super lovely, super cheap, and in my experience, last quite a long time! :)

  4. Susan says:

    I adore carnations. But let’s keep it on the down low, shall we? I’d be sad if I could’t buy a huge beautiful bunch for less than $20 anymore.

  5. Rita says:

    I love carnations, always did. Here in Portugal, Carnations are also a symbol of Liberty since the “Carnation Revolution” (Revolução dos Cravos) in the 70s. After a long long dictatorship there was a military revolution, and a child put a carnation in a soldier’s gun. It turned out a very pacific revolution.

  6. Lindsey says:

    Love carnations .. I thought I was the only one! Besides being the state flower for Ohio <3 .. they're also awesome because live soo long.

  7. Anastasia says:

    They are just my favorites! Not just because of the variety of colors – sometimes the last up to 3 weeks! What other flower does that?


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