Inula Royleana
Midwest Gardening
Dianthus Cheddar Pinks

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Dianthus Cheddar Pinks, tough and hardy and the most prolific bloomers

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. 

 

Dianthus gratianopolitanus, the true Cheddar Pinks, are the toughest, hardiest, most prolific species of dianthus along with the Dianthus plumaris Feathered Pinks.  The single or double blooms are large and deeply fringed.  Cheddar Pinks are a longer living species of Dianthus, and holds up better in moist conditions.  Stems are branched creating full clusters of blooms.  Most often the blooms are fragrant.  Cheddar Pinks are tough perennials ideal for difficult situations.  They will tolerate heat, humidity and drought.  They are also slightly tolerant of salt, making Cheddar Pinks an option for roadside gardens where salt spray is a problem.  Give them a good flushing in spring to help dilute the soil salt.

Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Bath’s Pink’
Dianthus Baths Pink by Wayne Hatcher

  • Common Name:  Cheddar Pinks
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous evergreen perennial
  • Height: 9-12”
  • Spread:  6-12”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun
  • Water Requirements:  Very adaptable but prefers average, regular watering, do not over water.  Will tolerate some drought.
  • Soil Requirements:  Soil must be well drained, prefers neutral to alkaline pH.  Will tolerate most soil conditions, prefers a loose sandy soil.
  • Growth Habit:  Loosely tufted clumps
  • Bloom Time: May through July, repeating through September
  • Bloom Color: Soft pink with a magenta spotted center halo
  • Bloom Form:  1” single blooms with five broad petals notched at the outer edges.
  • Foliage:  Very narrow blue green leaves with pointed tips.
  • Fragrance:  Sweet clove scent.
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Susceptible to crown rot if over watered or if soil is poorly drained.
  • Fertilize: Apply a balanced fertilizer after flowering.  Additional light applications of 12-4-8 fertilizer two or three times through the growing season.  Or apply a slow release fertilizer once in spring.  Or topdress with organic compost in spring and fall.
  • Maintenance: Divide in spring or fall.
  • Other:  Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.  Deer resistant.
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-9

‘Bath’s Pink’ produces an outstanding display of pink blooms borne singly on 10” stems in spring through early summer.  Blooming will repeat intermittently and can be encouraged by shearing back spent blooms.  The buds remain unopened on the plant for long periods, adding interest for several weeks before fully in bloom.  ‘Bath’s Pink’ will tolerate more heat, humidity and drought than other species of Dianthus.  In periods of extreme heat, give ‘Bath’s Pink’ a little extra water.  Afternoon shade will be appreciated in regions with hot summers.  To form a groundcover mat, plant 12 to 18” apart, the plants will fill in within two seasons.  The deep blue green foliage of grass like tufts is attractive when out of bloom, and remains fresh year round in warmer zones.  An all time favorite for cottage gardens, ‘Bath’s Pink’ is also excellent for edging, groundcover, hillside plantings and curb gardens.

 

Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Firewitch’
Dianthus Firewitch by Kate O'

  • Common Name:  Cheddar Pinks
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous evergreen perennial
  • Height: 7-8”
  • Spread:  12-18”
  • 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 neutral to alkaline pH.  Will tolerate most soil conditions but prefers a loose sandy soil.
  • Growth Habit:  Loosely tufted clumps
  • Bloom Time: May through June, repeating through September
  • Bloom Color: Magenta pink with white centers
  • Bloom Form:  1” single blooms with five broad petals, deeply notched at the outer edges.
  • Foliage:  Very narrow silvery blue green leaves with pointed tips.
  • Fragrance:  Clove scent
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Susceptible to crown rot if over watered or if soil is poorly drained.
  • Fertilize: Requires little fertilizer unless soil is exceptionally poor.  Apply a balanced slow release fertilizer in spring or topdress with organic compost.
  • Maintenance: Divide in spring or fall.
  • Other:  Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.  Deer resistant.
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-8
Dianthus Cheddar Pink Fire Witch by Ryan Somma

‘Firewitch’ produces brilliant magenta blooms on 6” stems.  Shear back the stems after the heavy spring blooming to encourage additional blooming.  This German hybrid has strong gratianopolitanus parentage, passing on the tough hardiness of the species, as well as a longer life.  ‘Firewitch’ can be expected to live five years or more.  This hybrid was crossed with Dianthus caesius and reblooms quite well if deadheaded.  ‘Firewitch is very tolerant of hot dry conditions, but the foliage and blooming may not be as lush as in cooler climates.  Additional watering is necessary in periods of hot dry conditions.  The plant will appreciate some afternoon shade in hot regions.  Do not heavily mulch with organic matter to prevent fungus from afflicting delicate stems.  In humid climates mulch with pea gravel.  ‘Firewitch’ creates a stunning combination of hot colored blooms against cool silvery foliage.

 

Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Tiny Rubies’
Dianthus Tiny Rubies

  • Common Name:  Cheddar Pinks
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous evergreen perennial
  • Height: 4-5”
  • Spread:  10-24”
  • 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 neutral to alkaline pH.  Will tolerate most soil conditions.
  • Growth Habit:  Loosely tufted clumps
  • Bloom Time: May through July, repeating through September
  • Bloom Color: Ruby pink
  • Bloom Form:  1/2 - 3/4” double blooms with broad petals notched at the outer edges.
  • Foliage:  Very narrow gray-blue green leaves with pointed tips.
  • Fragrance:  Clove scent
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Susceptible to crown rot if over watered or if soil is poorly drained.
  • Fertilize: Apply slow release fertilizer in spring or top dress with organic compost.
  • Maintenance: Divide in spring or fall.
  • Other:  Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.  Deer resistant.
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-9

‘Tiny Rubies’ is a superb flowering groundcover.  Growing only to 6 inches high, it spreads 1 to 2 feet and forms a dense mat sparkling with ;’Tiny Rubies’ for several weeks.  Or plant along a walkway where the spicy clove scent can be enjoyed.  A little light foot traffic will be tolerated.  A tolerance for salt will also allow you to plant in curbside gardens subjected to salt spray.  Do flush with plenty of water in spring to dilute the salt content in the soil.  An easy to grow and care for tough perennial that holds up in hot dry conditions.  Some afternoon shade will aide the plant in regions with hot summers, and extra watering in dry spells will be appreciated.  Shear off spent blooms to encourage reblooming.  ‘Tiny Rubies can be expected to live about five years.  Divide to propagate new plants, or allow late summer blooms to set seed.  However it does not seed aggressively.

 

Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Mountain Mist’
Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Mountain Mist' by Rich Brooks

  • Common Name:  Cheddar Pinks
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous evergreen perennial
  • Height: 9-12”
  • Spread:  9-12”
  • 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 neutral to alkaline pH.  Will tolerate most soil conditions but prefers fertile soil.
  • Growth Habit:  Loosely tufted clumps
  • Bloom Time: May through June, repeating through September
  • Bloom Color: Pink
  • Bloom Form:  1 1/2” double blooms with broad petals notched at the outer edges.
  • Foliage:  Very narrow silver green leaves with pointed tips.
  • Fragrance:  Light clove scent
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Susceptible to crown rot if over watered or if soil is poorly drained.
  • Fertilize: Apply slow release fertilizer in spring or top dress with organic compost.
  • Maintenance: Divide in spring or fall.
  • Other:  Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.  Deer resistant.
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-9

“Mountain Mist’ produces a profusion of 1 1/2” lacy blooms of pink, creating a pink mounded cushion.  The pink as been described as lipstick pink, dusty rose and smoky pink, likely due to differences of conditions they are grown in.  In hot regions the color will often be more subdued, brighter in cool regions.  Shear back the spent blooms to encourage additional blooming.  ‘Mountain Mist’ is a vigorous hybrid that will tolerate dry soil and are quite heat resistant.  Afternoon shade will be appreciated by the plant in hot regions, and a little extra watering in dry periods.  ‘Mountain Mist’ can be expected to live about five years.  Divide to propagate new plants, or allow late summer blooms to set seed.  However it does not seed aggressively.

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