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Growing Carnations

Course CodeVHT110
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


  • As a Cut Flower
  • In a Garden
  • Anywhere
A course for anyone with a passion for Dianthus and Carnations
A serious course equally valuable to the home enthusiast or the commercial cut flower grower. You learn about growing quality carnations (planting, watering, pest & disease control, fertilizing), different ways of growing them (e.g. as row crops in soil, in hydroponics, in a greenhouse); and harvesting, post-harvest treatments, and quality control.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • Physiology
    • Information sources
  2. Culture
    • Planting
    • staking
    • mulching
    • watering
    • feeding
    • pruning, etc.
  3. Propagation
    • Methods of propagating this group of plants
  4. Propagation of selected varieties
  5. Hydroponics
  6. Pest and Disease
  7. Irrigation
  8. Greenhouse Management
  9. Harvest, Post Harvest and Quality

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

What are Carnations?

The name carnation is given to certain cultivars from the genus "Dianthus". Carnation is not a precise term; and may occasionally be applied to any of the Dianthus; although it is more commonly applied to larger flowered cultivars. The common name "Pink" is more often applied to smaller flowered cultivars; even those that are not pink in colour. 
This course is particularly relevant to cut flower carnations; but is certainly also relevant to all other types of "Dianthus" as well.
There are a range of opportunities for developing business ventures with Dianthus and Carnations; including:
  • Cut Flower Production
  • Breeding New Varieties
  • Seed Production
  • Producing containerised plants for selling in nurseries and planting in gardens 
  • Herbs - growing them for oils production; medicinal, culinary or craft usess
How are Carnations Used?
Carnations are grown as both garden plants; and as commercial crops.
As a commercial crop, they are mostly cultivated for cut flowers; but are also grown for perfumery. Perfume is extracted from carnations in southern France to produce a product called “Carnation Absolute”. This has a “floral spicy scent and clove nuance” It is used often in some of the classic fragrances in the perfumery industry; and is particularly effective when combined with rose oil.
 Growing Carnations as Cut Flowers
Carnations may be grown in a way that attempts to produce single large flowers on single stems; or alternatively to produce multiple smaller flowers branching off a stem. 
Standard Carnations have the side buds removed, to produce a long stem with one terminal flower. Most standards grown are bred from an American cultivar called "William Sim"
Spray Carnations are not disbudded. They are grown with many flowers branching from a stem, and are sold as a bunch.
Managing Flowers After Harvest
Managing temperature can be the most critical factor in post harvest management. Carnations kept at 10 degrees Celsius will deteriorate/age, ten times faster than carnation flowers kept at 1 degree C.
Other important factors include:
  • Water –Water is essential to prevent plant tissues dehydrating; but microscopic pathogens can also easily be transmitted to plant tissues through water. Water must be clean, and all care should be taken to avoid damaging plant tissues through rough handling. Torn or bruised tissue is more prone to infection and will deteriorate faster. 
  • Air - Avoid storing plants in windy places, direct sunlight or low humidity (eg. Air con) which can accelerate drying of tissues
  • Ethylene –Ethylene gas will accelerate the deterioration of many cut flowers including carnations. By minimizing exposure to ethylene, you can extend the life of the flowers. Etylene is produced by vehicle exhausts, industrial pollutants, cigarette smoke, ripening fruit and plant tissues (even the flowers themselves). You cannot smell the gas; but it is always there. Your aim should be to minimize exposure to higher than normal levels of the gas. Damaged or deteriorating plant tissue will produce more ethylene than new, healthy tissue; so avoid keeping damaged flowers near new ones. STC can help –see below
  • Food –Flowers that are cut have been detached from their supply of both food and water. By supplying a source of both, this can often extend the flowers life. Even a simple sugar solution can serve this purpose.
  • Carnations are commonly kept at between 1 and 4 degrees C after harvest.
  • Silver thiosulphate (ie. STC)  is a chemical that can be used to extent the life of some types of cut flowers, including Carnations. STC reduces the effect of ethylene on flowers. STC is found is some common commercial flower preservatives, including Chrysal AVB.

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