June 11, 2024

How to grow carnations from seed

Carnations are a beautiful and popular addition to any garden, but they can be expensive to buy at the store. 

Not only can carnations be expensive to purchase, but they can also be difficult to grow. Many people give up on growing them because they don’t get the results they were hoping for.

With this easy-to-follow guide, you will be able to grow beautiful carnations from seed in no time. This guide includes detailed instructions, as well as a list of supplies that you will need.

How to grow carnations from seed

To grow carnations from seed, start by planting the seeds in a pot or container that is at least six inches deep.

1. Fill the soil

Fill the pot with soil and then poke the seeds into the soil, making sure that they are covered with dirt. Water the pot well and then place it in a sunny location. Keep the soil moist by watering it regularly.

2. Germination

After about two weeks, the seeds should germinate and grow into seedlings. Once they have reached a few inches in height, transplant them into individual pots or into your garden bed.

3. Transplanting

When transplanting, make sure to dig a hole that is big enough for the roots of the plant. Gently place the plant into the hole and then fill in the dirt around it, packing it down firmly. Water the plant well. (Learn: When to repot a plant)

4. Growing

Carnations prefer full sun but will tolerate partial shade. They also prefer soil that is moist but well-drained. Fertilize the plants every few weeks with a balanced fertilizer. Deadhead the flowers regularly to encourage continued blooming. With proper care, your carnations should bloom from late spring through fall.

How to germinate carnation seeds

1. Start with fresh carnation seeds that have not been treated with a fungicide.

2. Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for 24 hours.

3. Fill a pot with damp soil and plant the seeds 1/4 inch below the surface.

4. Keep the soil moist but not wet and place in a warm spot.

5. Seeds should germinate in 14-21 days. (1)

6. Once seedlings emerge, thin to one per pot and grow on until large enough to transplant outdoors.

7. Transplant carnations into the garden after all danger of frost has passed. (Learn: What is the temperature frost point for plants)

How to grow carnations from cuttings

To grow carnations from cuttings, you will need to take a cutting from an existing carnation plant. The cutting should be about 5-6 inches long, and include at least two leaves.

Next, remove the bottom leaves from the cutting and dip it in rooting hormone. Make a hole in the soil with a pencil and insert the cutting about an inch deep.

Be sure to keep the soil moist but not wet, and in a few weeks you should see new growth. Once the plant is established, you can transplant it to a pot or garden bed.

How to care for carnations in pots

1. Temperature

Carnations grow best in cool temperatures, so they are a perfect addition to your garden during the spring and fall.

2. Rich soil

When growing carnations from seed, be sure to plant them in soil that is rich in organic matter and has good drainage. (Learn: The gardening soil)

3. Water & fertilize

To help ensure success, water the plants regularly and fertilize them every few weeks with a balanced fertilizer.

4. Place in the correct place

If you live in an area with hot summers, it’s best to grow carnations in pots so that you can move them indoors or to a shady spot outdoors when the temperatures start to rise.

5. Extra care

When it comes to carnation care, potted plants will need to be watered more often than those growing in the ground. Be sure to check the soil regularly and water when it feels dry to the touch.

6. Prune it

To keep your carnations looking their best, cut back the stems by a few inches every couple of weeks. This will encourage new growth and prevent the plants from becoming leggy.

How long do carnations bloom

Carnations typically bloom for around 8 weeks (2). During that time, it’s important to keep an eye on the flowers and remove any that are starting to wilt. This will encourage the plant to produce more flowers.

To deadhead carnations, cut the stem at a 45-degree angle just below the wilted flower. Be sure to make your cuts in the morning so the plant has time to heal before nightfall.

Growing carnation tips

When growing carnations from seed, it’s best to start them indoors in late winter or early spring. Sow the seeds on the surface of a well-draining potting mix and press them gently into the mix.

Cover the pot with plastic wrap to help retain moisture and place it in a warm, bright spot. Keep the soil moist but not soggy and within a few weeks, you should see seedlings emerge.

Once the seedlings have grown their first true leaves, they can be transplanted into individual pots. When transplanting, be sure not to damage the delicate root systems. Water the seedlings well and place them in a sunny spot.

Carnations are fairly drought tolerant, so you won’t need to water them too often. Once they’re established, they can be fertilized every few weeks with a balanced fertilizer.

How long do carnations take to grow

Carnations grow best in full sun, but can tolerate some shade. Plant the seeds in late winter or early spring, after the last frost has passed.

The seeds will germinate in 14 to 21 days. Thin the seedlings to 12 inches apart. Carnations grow best when the soil is rich and well drained.

How to propagate carnations

Sow the seed

To propagate carnations from seed, you will need to sow them in a pot or container filled with moistened potting mix. Sow the seeds on the surface of the mix and then press them in gently with your fingers.

Cover the container with plastic wrap or place it in a plastic bag to retain moisture, and then set it in a warm location until the seeds germinate. Once the seedlings emerge, remove the plastic and move the container to a bright location.

Water and fertilize

Carnations need to be kept moist, so water them whenever the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. To encourage blooming, fertilize monthly with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10.

Pinch the stems

To encourage a bushier plant, pinch the tips of the carnation stems when they are 6 inches tall. Pinching stimulates side branching and results in more flowers. Continue to pinch the stems every few weeks until mid-summer.

Deadhead the flowers

As the carnations bloom, remove the spent flowers by cutting them back to the first set of leaves. This will encourage the plant to produce more flowers.

How tall do carnations grow

Carnations grow to be about 2.5 feet tall (3). If you want them to grow taller, you can provide them with a taller support, such as a stake or a trellis.

Carnation growing conditions

Check out this resource on the best conditions for growing carnations.


To grow carnations from seed, you will need to provide them with plenty of light and warmth. You should provide your carnations with at least six hours of sunlight per day.

Soil condition

Seeds should be surface-sown in a well-drained soil mix and covered with a light layer of soil. They should be kept moist but not wet.


Germination should occur in 14 to 21 days. Once the seedlings appear, thin them out so that they are spaced about 8 inches apart.


Carnations will benefit from being fed a high-potash fertilizer every few weeks during the growing season.


Deadhead spent flowers to prolong blooming. Deadheading is the process of removing the spent flowers from a plant in order to promote new blooms. To deadhead carnations, simply snip off the flower at the base of the stem.

How to transplant in the garden

To transplant carnations in the garden, first dig a hole that is twice as wide as the pot the carnation is currently in.

Carefully remove the carnation from its pot and place it in the hole. Backfill the hole with soil, being sure to compact it around the base of the plant.

Water the carnation well and fertilize it according to the package directions.

Best time to plant Carnation

Carnations can be started indoors or outdoors. If you live in an area with a long growing season, you can direct seed carnations into the garden.

However, if you live in an area with a shorter growing season, it’s best to start the seeds indoors.

Common pest problem

One of the most common pest problems for gardeners is pests. Pests can cause a lot of damage to your plants, and they can be very difficult to get rid of. If you have pests in your garden, there are a few things you can do to try and control them.

1. Try to grow your carnations in an area where there is little to no pesticide use. Pesticides can kill beneficial insects that help keep pests under control.

2. If you do use pesticides, be sure to follow the directions on the label carefully.

3. Keep your garden clean and free of debris. This will help to remove places where pests can hide and breed.

4. Inspect your plants regularly for signs of pests. If you see any, take action immediately to try and control the problem.

5. Be sure to grow a variety of different plants in your garden. This will help to attract beneficial insects that will help keep pests under control.

Common disease problem

The common disease problem for carnations is powdery mildew. This fungal disease can cause leaves to yellow and die, and it can also affect the blooms.

To prevent powdery mildew, water your carnations early in the day so that the leaves have time to dry before nightfall.

You should also avoid overhead watering, which can promote fungal growth. If powdery mildew does appear, you can treat it with a fungicide.

Carnations are also susceptible to root rot, which is caused by too much water. To prevent root rot, make sure that the soil around your carnations is well-drained.

If the leaves of your carnation start to turn yellow or brown, this is a sign that the plant is not getting enough water.

(Learn: How to water a plant)

Final Thoughts

Although carnations are relatively easy to grow from seed, there are a few things you need to keep in mind in order to ensure success. By following these simple tips, you can have beautiful blooms gracing your garden in no time.