Common name: Garden Pinks
Most forms are of hybrid origin, and are generally grown as annuals / biennials or perennials, in herbaceous borders or beds.
Many varieties make good cut flowers and are useful plants for containerised gardens.
Similarly, some dwarf species are ideal for rock gardens and dry walls.
Pinks growing in a border
Most species tend to be short -lived, necessitating the need for frequent propagation.
The plants should be grown in soil that is not too acid.
They are tolerant of salt spray making them a useful subject in coastal areas.
Chinensis generally has many fringed flowers that look as if they have been trimmed with pinking shears, hence their common name, not the colour as sometimes is thought.
The sweetly clove-scented flowers often bi-coloured flowers appear in late spring / early summer and last for a long time, particularly if they are regularly dead-headed.
They are quite low growing e.g. 150-300mm (6"-12") high with a similar spread.
This attribute makes them suitable for containers or rock gardens.
Like other dianthus, they thrive in alkaline soil, in either full sun or partial shade.
Perennial varieties should be replaced frequently by taking cuttings from disease-free plants in spring or autumn.
The crown, or top of the root structure, must always be level with the surface of the soil, never bury any part of the stem.
The plants should not be mulched, their tender root tops and trailing stems require good air circulation at all times and must be kept as free from moisture as possible.
Sow seeds thinly on the compost surface, and cover with vermiculite, then germinate at a temperature of around 18°-21°C (64°-70°F).
Seed may not come true to variety.
Germination should take about 7 days.
Plants are best propagated every two or three years, either by division, layering or cuttings.
To divide them, now is the time to carefully loosen the roots with a hand fork, and lift and pull the plants apart to leave a good main stem on each portion.
Replant the divisions 300mm (12") apart.
If the first true leaves have appeared, prick out the seedlings, into cell trays or 75mm pots of potting compost, otherwise hold off pricking out until the first true leaves appear.
Grow on in a coldframe until planting out time.
Stopping established plants is necessary to build up good side-growths before flowers are produced, however this might delay flowering.
Stop any young pinks that run to flower without making good side-shoots, older plants seldom require stopping.
Stopping is done by breaking off the top of the main shoots just above a joint.
Prepare the bed by digging the soil one spit deep, and working in a light dressing of well-rotted farmyard manure or compost.
Rake in bone-meal at no more than 100gms (4 oz) per sq. metre into the surface.
Too rich soil can encourage leaf growth at the expense of flowers.
Plant out in a well drained sunny situation in soil that has been lightly manured.
Plant firmly and, to avoid stem rot, bury as little as possible of the stems.
If the plants tend to sway when first planted, secure them temporarily to 150mm (6") split canes and tie in with thin wire rings.
Take piping cuttings or alternatively layer suitable side shoots.
After flowering, remove the old flower stems, rake in a proprietary high-potash fertiliser at 100gms (4 oz) per sq. metre, then water the plants thoroughly.
Check layers, and if rooted sever from the parent plants.
Three or four weeks later, lift the rooted the plantlets and place in their flowering quarters.
Support the plantlets by tying into a split cane until they become established.