Dianthus (garden pinks) are a great choice if you’re after a long-flowering garden plant. Traditional favourites for the cottage garden, they look delicate but are actually very hardy. They also have a distinctive spicy scent. Some gardeners consider them old-fashioned, but recent breeding has given us more modern-looking plants.
Which? Gardening magazine trialled 19 varieties of dianthus to find the best ones. To discover our Best Buy varieties, subscribe to Which? Gardening online or by calling 029 2267 0000.
Neutral to alkaline soils are recommended for pinks, however we found that if you give dianthus good drainage, pinks will still grow well if your soil is slightly on the acidic side of neutral.
Pot plug plants into 9cm pots and grow on until the roots touch the sides before transferring them to the garden.
Pinks are hardy but usually perform best when planted in spring. Make sure they are acclimatised to outside temperatures first before you plant them.
Plant in full sun.
Caring for your plants
Deadhead plants as flowers go over for tidier plants. In late autumn, trim back the whole plant to a neat mat of healthy growth to keep it in shape.
Caption: Removing dead flowers will encourage more blooms
Water plants during hot, dry spells to prevent them drying out. Even with watering, a heatwave will delayed reflowering until the weather cools.
Take cuttings from March to September. Remove non-flowering side-shoots from the plant by cutting or pulling them away from the stem. Place several cuttings 3-4cm apart around the edge of a small pot filled with a 50:50 mix of compost and perlite or grit. Keep them warm and covered until they start to grow, then pot on individually when roots appear under the pot.
Caption: Cuttings are easy to take
Fungal diseases can cause leaf spotting, yellowing and brown or straw-coloured stems at the base or in sections of the plants. Reduce humidity by not overcrowding plants and avoiding watering them from overhead. Also, improve drainage. Remove badly infected plants to limit the spread of fungal diseases.
Aphids and thrips can damage shoot tips and leaves. Check your plants carefully and squash any you see to prevent colonies building up.