Cut Carnation Flower Care

Carnations, which are a subset of the genus Dianthus, are a beautiful flowering perennial or annual that make great cut flowers. These are one of the most popular cut flowers in arrangements in the United States. Carnations are the 2nd most popular cut flower after roses. The flowers have delicate ruffled edges and have a sweet and spicy fragrance that is powerful but sweet. The flowers will outlast almost any other type of cut flower in vase arrangements, bouquets, boutonnieres and any other uses for cut flowers. The flowers are also edible and can be used on cake decorations, in salads or in festive cocktails. There are many uses for these flowers, which is why the flowers have been grown and used for centuries.


The name dianthus translates to “Flowers of the God” and “Flowers of Love”. The flowers were used in ancient times in coronations, headbands, ceremonies, and celebrations. The flowers are commonly used in weddings in boutonnieres, centerpieces and down the aisle in the ground. The good news is that these plants are easy to care for, come in many different colors and some even have reblooming qualities! 

How Long Do Cut Carnations Last?

Dianthus flowers can last up to 21 days with proper care and steps taken. Most will last an average of 14 days. And if no care is taken the flowers will fade and die within 2-3 days typically. But with a few easy steps, you can ensure you can enjoy the flowers for the maximum amount of time.


Make Cut Carnation Flowers Last Longer

There are a few easy steps to get the cut flowers ready to go:

Step 1 - Put the fresh cut flower stems in water as soon as possible.

Step 2 - Fill the vase or container with water and let the water come to room temperature. 

Step 3 - Cut the bottom of the stems in a 45 degree slant, just above a node on the stem. 

Step 4 - Remove leaves that are submerged in the water because they will rot away. 

Step 5 - If the water starts looking cloudy, replace it with fresh water and rinse off the submerged part of the stems.

Step 6 - After a week, you may want to re-cut the stems below the next node. This will help the flowers intake of water again.

Tips For Longer Lasting Carnations

Vase or Container - whatever container you choose to keep the flowers in, be sure it is cleaned out very well and doesn't have any bacteria in it. We recommend using a little bit of bleach while cleaning the container before putting the water and flowers in it. Be sure to wash away the bleach before doing that though.

Location - When choosing the best location, choose a spot inside that doesn't get direct sunlight and is away from cold drafts or sources of heat like air vents. The cooler the room temperatures the better, usually between 55-65 degrees. 

Ongoing Care - Change out the water every 3 days. Each time you clean out the water, recut the stems at the next node to help the plant drink more water. Remember the bottom of the stems will naturally seal, so recutting helps water flow up the stems and extends the life of the flowers.

Feeding - most bouquets will come with flower food. Don't forget to put that in the water. If you do not have flower food, you can substitute one tablespoon of sugar in the water.

Water - Carnations love water, but don't put too much in the vase. Only fill the vase with 2 to 3 inches of water. This will help prevent the stems from rotting, and dianthus are very susceptible to that. Never use hard or softened water. Both contain minerals that are harmful to cut flowers. 

Bacteria - along with cleaning the container before using it, you can also add 1/4 tablespoon of household bleach per quart of water in the container.


How Fast Do Carnation Flowers Grow?

Some impatient gardeners often ask us how long it will take for carnation plants to produce the first flowers, or what the lifecycle is. There are many different varieties of carnations, and each kind bloom on different schedules. However, in general the first flowers can be ready in as little as 4 to 6 weeks after the first sign of growth! Carnations are also the national flower of Slovenia and Spain.

Carnation Meaning & Symbol

The carnation flower means fascination, distinction, and love. Carnations are given for the first wedding anniversary as a sign of commitment. According to some Christian legends, the Virgin Mary's tears helped carnations grow as she watched Jesus carry the cross. That is why the flowers can mean motherly love. 

Carnation Color Meaning

Different colors of carnation flowers can mean different things and can be used in different situations. 

Red - love and affection, often left at grave sites and memorials. This is the official flower of the State of Ohio honor President William McKinley, an Ohioan. Red carnations are also worn in some countries on May Day to symbolize socialism and the labor movement.


Pink - symbolizes a mother's love

Light Red - means admiration and friendship

Crimson Red - symbolizes deep love and affection

White - pure love, faithfulness and innocence. Can also mean purity or luck. THese are also worn in the Netherlands to remember veterans and the country’s resistance to World War II.

Yellow - rejection and disappointment

Pink - gratitude

Purplecapriciousness. In France it is the traditional flower for funerals.

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 Author Chris Link - Published 12-07-2020