Growing Carnations in Pots Guide
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Growing Carnations in Pots

Growing carnations in pots is a great way to grow these beautiful scented flowers so they can be enjoyed in a sunny spot in your home or by an entryway giving your guests a wonderful aroma as they walk through your door.

Carnations are a species of Dianthus believed to be native to the Mediterranean region however its exact origin isn’t known as it has been widely cultivated.

Carnations are perennial flowers however they are treated as annuals in colder regions. These cold and frost tolerant plants will grow to a height of 31 ½ inches (80cm) tall. They have grey green foliage with frilled single or double blooms in many different colors including shades of red, white, pink, orange and violet. Carnation blooms are usually given to express love.

Potted carnations flowering.
These beautiful flowers brighten up an arid landscape.

Carnations in Pots

Whether you prefer an inside or outside location, growing carnations in pots is easy. Carnations like a neutral to slightly alkaline soil which is free draining. For pots it is easy to get the right soil by simply using your favorite potting mix. It doesn’t need to be a high-quality mix as long as you use liquid fertilizer every two to four weeks to promote growth.

Outside Location

Carnations like full sun in cooler climates however if you live in a warm climate it is best to protect the plants from the afternoon sun.

Indoor Location

It is best to choose a self-watering planter for indoors or a pot with a saucer. Place in a position which gets at least half a day of sun and has good air circulation. This 8 inch self watering and self aerating pot with a deep reservoir has a unique design to prevent water rings on your floor. It is highly rated on Amazon. (Paid link)

Choosing Seedlings

As these are perennial plants it is definitely worth looking for seedlings. They can be found in punnets of six or more plants which will fill a large pot. Look for healthy plants which have no yellowing of the leaves.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Carnation Seedlings
  • Large Pot and Saucer or a Self-Watering Pot
  • Potting Mix or Compost
  • Liquid Fertilizer


How to grow carnations in pots.

  1. Fill the Pot

    Fill your pot up to an inch (2.5cm) from the top with the potting mix.

  2. Water

    Water the pot and the punnet of carnation seedlings well.

  3. Plant

    Make holes in the pot 6 – 8 inches (15 – 20cm) apart and 4 – 8 inches (10 – 15cm) deep. Gently pull apart the roots of the seedlings then plant each one in a hole. Form down the soil then water in well.

  4. Protect from Birds

    Protect the seedlings from birds if they are a problem in your area by placing wire mesh or bird netting over the top. This can be removed after the carnations begin to grow and their roots develop.

    Protecting carnation seedlings protected from birds with wire mesh.

  5. Fertilize

    Use a half strength liquid fertilizer two weeks after planting then use a full-strength fertilizer every two to four weeks during the warmer months.

  6. Support the Stems

    The long stems may need to be supported by either placing a stake in the middle then tying loosely to the stake or wrap a piece of twine around the middle of the stems. Be careful not to tie the twine too tight. The leaves will grow over the twine and the stems will support each other.

    Twine tied loosely around the stems for support.

  7. Mid Summer Prune

    The carnations will flower 12 to 16 weeks after the seedlings are planted. After flowering in mid-summer, prune the plant back by about a quarter cutting just above a leaf which is where the new growth will appear. This will encourage new growth and more flowers.

  8. Winter Prune

    Prune back in the winter before the new growth appears in the spring. Cut the stems an inch (2.5cm) from the ground.


When growing carnations in pots in a colder region it is a good idea to put your pot undercover to protect the plant from frost. This will ensure you will have new growth in the spring.

To create more plants for your garden see this guide to Taking Carnation Cuttings.

This organic liquid kelp fertilizer concentrate is all natural and safe to use arounds children and pets. It increases bloom size, promotes strong root growth and prevents plant stress. This fertilizer is top rated and great value on Amazon. (Paid link)

Are you looking for more flowers to grow in pots? Try these guides to growing Petunias, Pansies or try growing Geraniums from cuttings. Geraniums grow really well in pots and the cuttings are easy to take.

For more information on making the most of your garden, see this Homesteading guide.

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