It is according to Christian legend that the Carnation first appeared on earth while Jesus was carrying the cross and that Carnations sprung up where the Virgin Mary’s tears had fallen, as she cried over the death of her son. In more modern day times it was Mrs Anna Jarvis – who was also the founder of Mother’s Day – who first used carnations as a Mother’s Day flower. Anna gave the carnation simply because it was her mother’s favourite flower.
Of the several kinds of carnations that are grown, the three most common are the annual carnations, perpetual-flowering carnations and the border carnations. The scientific name for the carnation is the Dianthus – which was the name given to them by the Greek Botanist Theopharastus. The word Dianthus comes from two Greek words – Dios which referred to the Greek God Zeus and anthos which simply meant flower. It is from this that carnations are also known as The Flowers of God.
Carnations have many different meanings and they have become so popular not just because of this – but because of the many colours available. Each carnation colour has a different meaning. Carnations in general mean a woman’s love or fascination. Light red carnations mean Admiration, while green carnations represent St Patricks Day. Pink carnations mean Mother’s Love, White mean Good Luck or Pure Love, Yellow mean disappointment or rejection. Dark red carnations symbolise deep love and striped carnations symbolise refusal or regret. Before you give a lovely bunch of carnations to someone, it’s best you check the meaning of each colour first.
Did you know -
- Carnations are native to Eurasia
- Carnations last a long time even after they are cut
- Carnations express distinction, love and fascination
- Carnations are exotic to Australia, but since 1954 they have been grown here commercially.
- Historically carnations were first used by the Romans and the Greeks in garlands
- Carnations are symbols of a mother’s love
When grown in gardens carnations will grow between 6 and 8.5cm in diameter with petals that are generally serrated or clawed. The carnation is actually a bi-sexual flower that blooms in a forked or branched cluster, the leaves of the carnation are narrow with no stalks and their colour varies from purple to green or grey-blue, with big bold flowers on straight strong stems. The single flowers of the carnation species – Dianthus Caryophyllus have 5 petals and vary from purple to white in colour, while the border carnations have double the amount of flowers each with up to 40 petals.
There are three main types of carnation. Spray Carnations (also known as Mini Carnations) that have multiple small flowers, the Large Flowered Carnation, which has just one flower per stem and the Dwarf Flowered Carnation that has several small flowers on one stem. Carnations grow easily from cuttings made from the suckers that are found around the base of the stem, with these cuttings making for the best plant. Cuttings can also be taken from the main shoots before they bud, or from the side shoots of a flowering stem.