Garden carnations can be divided into two sections. There are the old-fashioned border carnations, which flower chiefly in July, and for a limited period only. There are also perpetual-flowering border carnations, hybrids between the perpetual-flowering carnations from the South of France and some of the hardier species. Tb-se perpetual border carnations are extremely useful for the amateurs garden, but it must be confessed that many of them are only suitable for r.U-the-year-round cultivation outdoors in sheltered, warm gardens.
Where the soil is cold, it is best to lift them and shelter them through the winter in a cold frame.
In general the cultivation of carnations is extremely simple. They like any ordinary, well-manured garden soil so long as there is some lime present. The addition of old mortar rubble to heavy soil will make it far more suitable for these plants.
They can be planted either in early spring or autumn. Young plants succeed best and produce the best flowers, and for this reason they should be propagated annually either from layers or cuttings. Plants can be raised from seed, but only a small percentage of the seedlings are usually found to be worth saving, the others being single, and often straggly in growth, so that their presence in the garden is not desirable.
During the growing season the only cultivation needed is hoeing between the plants to keep down weeds and aerate the soil. As the flower spikes develop, 6takes should be provided, and where it is intended to show exhibition blooms, the buds on each stem should be reduced to one.
For border decoration more buds can be allowed to remain, and the display of colour will be very much better.
The time to propagate the plants is about July. In the case of border carnations of the old type, a young plant will be found at this period to have a central flower stem, and several surrounding new shoots which are layered. (For full details see PROPAGATION.)
In the case of the perpetual-flowering carnations the non-flowering shoots are often disposed higher on the stem, that is, nearer to the flower. This would make layering difficult, and it is therefore more usual to propagate the perpetual-flowering carnations by cuttings. They root readily in sandy soil under glass, or where a glass is not available they will oftan root satisfactorily in late summer in the open air. Cuttings inserted in this manner should be set fairly close together in rows 9-in. Apart, and allowed to remain where they are until the following spring, when the appearance of new growth will be an indication that roots have formed.
Some of the best carnations for the amateurs garden are:
Bed Laddie, red.
Sunset Glow, yellow and pink.
Apple Blossom, pink.
Ben More, yellow picotee-edged.
Fair Ellen, white and heliotrope.
Grenadier, rich scarlet.
Ida Gray, grey and salmon.
Lord Sieyne, yellow, red and crimson.