Dianthus Allwood Hybrids, bright double blooms with a long blooming period
The Dianthus genus includes hardy perennials most notably the “pinks” (Dianthus superbus), as well as biennials and short lived perennials such as the Sweet Williams (Dianthus barbatus), and annuals. Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus) are also a part of the Dianthus genus, some are hardy and some are not. In northern gardens, some Dianthus can only be grown as annuals. Select your Dianthus carefully to be sure you are getting a hardy perennial.
Superbus is the subspecies that includes the “pinks”. Dianthus superbus are referred to as the Garden Pinks or Wild Pinks. Pinks are easy to grow and very hardy. Dianthus plumarius are ‘Feathered Pinks’ and heirloom pinks referred to as Large Pinks, very hardy and difficult to find. Dianthus gratianopolitanus are the Cheddar Pinks. Dianthus deltoides are Maiden Pinks. Dianthus monspessulanus are Fringed Pinks. Dianthus chinensis are the China Pinks. And then of course, there are the hybrids. Once planted in well drained soil with plenty of sun, occasional water and division every few years is about all they need. Cottage garden pinks are excellent low growing, prolific bloomers for the front of a border, rock garden or edging.
The Allwood hybrids usually have double blooms with grassy gray green foliage. These are a cross between Dianthus plumarius and a Perpetual Carnation. This has produced a very long blooming period and fuller plants. The Allwood Pinks are among the longest blooming perennials available, so it is worth noting each of the hybrids even though many are difficult to find. If you run across the named hybrid, you will want to know it is one of these lovely long bloomers: ‘Alpinus’,; ‘Aqua’; ‘Berkshire Moon’; ‘Danielle Marie’; ‘Desmond’; ‘Doris’; ‘Essex Witch’; ‘Frosty Fire’; ‘Helen’; ‘Hoffman’s Red’; ‘Inchmery’; ‘Itsaul White’; ‘Little Bobby’; ‘Margaret Curtis’; ‘Pink’; ‘Robespierre’; ‘Sonata’; ‘Spring Beauty’; ‘Velvet ‘N Lace’; and ‘War Bonnet’. The Allwoods have a light spicy scent, but are not as strongly fragrant as the classic antique pinks. One exception is ‘Aqua’, with large pure white double blooms, which is quite powerfully scented. Like most of the pinks, Allwood has a short life expectancy, about 3 or 4 years, so propagate by division or cuttings to maintain the plants in your garden.
Dianthus x allwoodii ‘Desmond’
- Common Name: Carnation Pinks
- Plant Type: Herbaceous evergreen perennial
- Height: 8-14”
- Spread: 12-14”
- Sun/Shade Requirements: Full sun
- Water Requirements: Very adaptable but prefers average watering, do not over water.
- Soil Requirements: Soil must be well drained, prefers a loose sandy soil with a neutral to alkaline pH.
- Growth Habit: Compact and mounded
- Bloom Time: May through July, repeating through September
- Bloom Color: Deep true red
- Bloom Form: 2” double blooms, carnation or rose-like
- Foliage: Very narrow, long gray-blue green leaves with pointed tips.
- Fragrance: Spicy scent
- Pest and Disease Resistance: Susceptible to crown rot if over watered or if soil is poorly drained.
- Fertilize: Apply a balanced fertilizer in early spring.
- Maintenance: Divide in spring or fall.
- Other: Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Deer resistant.
- Hardiness: Zones 4-8
‘Desmond’ is a gorgeous bold red double flowering Dianthus. The pale aqua blue foliage is evergreen and sets of the deep red perfectly. The foliage forms a neat compact mound of silvery blue-green that is lovely even when out of bloom. ‘Desmond’ is a very old and popular variety that can be easily found in most garden centers. The fragrant blooms are excellent for cut flowers, producing more and more blooms the more you cut. Blooms are borne on 14” stems. Cut flowers for arrangements or deadhead, but do not cut back the foliage or the plant will die. In regions with hot summers, the blooms will not be as plentiful and lush, and some afternoon shade will benefit the plant. ‘Desmond’ is a perfect edging plant or accent plant, and is stunning when planted in groups or masses.
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