February 18, 2017
This plant was on the table of a local restaurant in Little Rock. The waitress did not know what it was. Can you help?
It is actually a new variety of dianthus, or what your grandmother called Sweet Williams—it is called either Green Ball or Green Trick dianthus. It is related to the common carnation. It should be a fairly long-lasting cut flower and would be perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.
About 5 or 6 years ago I purchased ten plants and set five on each side of the sidewalk leading up to our front door. They were supposed to grow and take over the area. Until this year they grew very slowly, but were healthy. This year they took off and all began to expand and looked great. Then, on one side of the walk they all began to turn yellow. This turning was long before the heat wave. We water both sides of the walk the same, and they get the same amount of sun. Now, one of the plants on the other side of the walk with the good plants has also started to turn yellow and dry up. They have purple flowers that come and go all summer long. Our questions are, first, what is this plant. And more importantly, what do we need to do to get them healthy again?
The plant you are growing is Dianthus gratianopolitanus, commonly called Cheddar Pinks. It is a perennial, but may not constantly have dense foliage and flowers. Dianthus tends to run hot and cold during our summer months. The drainage needs to be ideal; they will not tolerate wet soils, but they also aren't drought tolerant. In the hotter months, they benefit from a bit of shade in the afternoon. They also stop growing and blooming much when it is hot, and tend to kick in and grow better when it is cool. There are numerous dianthus varieties on the market, and this is one of the best, but I would consider adding something a bit more durable into the mix to give you constant cover.
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