Leading the way with Dianthus
British National Carnation Society
Although Pinks have not reached the standard of perfection of Border Carnations or Perpetual Carnations they never the less posses a special charm of their own. The grower of a modern hybrid Pinks will be rewarded with a wealth of colour and fragrance throughout the Summer months for a little care and attention that is required to grow them successfully. Many older varieties of Pinks including are still available and whilst they flower profusely for four to six weeks during June and July they do not posses the perpetual flowering qualities of their modern counterparts. They are however still worth growing particularly for garden decoration.
The ideal conditions for growing Pinks is in a free draining soil which is slightly on the acid side of neutral but they will perform remarkably well in almost any garden soil provided there is adequate drainage and they do not become waterlogged during the Winter months. The drainage of heavy soils can be greatly improved by the addition of sharp sand and grit, and if necessary the Pinks bed can be raised above the level of the surrounding garden. A light dressing of garden lime should be given to the Pinks bed in Autumn and a top dressing of a balanced fertiliser such as Growmore in the Spring. During the Summer the plants should never be allowed to dry out and they will also benefit from a fortnightly feed of a balanced fertiliser.
A constant lookout should be kept for any infestation of Aphids or any other pests and the plants should be treated with a pesticide, preferably a systemic one.
For exhibition purposes Pinks are usually grown one to a two litre pot in a porous compost. They are allowed to flower under cover to protect the blooms from adverse weather conditions.
Stock of Pinks can be increased at any time of the year, by taking cuttings three to four inches long from non flowering shoots. The end of the cutting is dipped into rooting hormone powder before being inserted half an inch deep into a rooting medium, such as J.I.No1. the cuttings should be kept out of direct sunlight, kept moist by the spraying of water over the foliage. After four to six weeks the cuttings should be sufficiently rooted for them to be potted on into three inch pots ( nine centimetre )
One of the most often questions that I am asked at show venues is “ What would you recommend for a novice to start with “ This is not at first glance an easy answer, as it depends on what experience the novice has in growing pot plants ; if he or she has absolutely no experience in growing any pot plants, then yes it is an easy answer. Without doubt I would recommend that they start by growing Pinks. This is sometimes an answer that they did not expect, as they look at the many vases of P/FS that are on display, but when I explain the versatility of Pinks they soon understand my recommendation.
So what is it about Pinks, well I think it’s simple, they will reward you with flowers for very little effort, and if you are a beginner in growing Carnations or Pinks what better than instant success. As long as you get the conditions right, then they will flower from June right through till October and perhaps longer. They are so versatile, no garden, no problem grow them in a window box, or a pot on the patio. If you have space in the garden then grow some in the border, or in pots, all they require is good drainage, light and airy conditions. The vast amount of Pinks also have an added bonus, and that is scent, a few cut flowers will soon fill a room and we should all be aware of our carbon footprint. Why purchase that bunch of Pinks from the supermarket or garage, they have probably travelled from across the world and most annoying of all, they have no scent. Just a couple of plants, will give you plenty of stems for cut flower.
A Vase of cut Pinks, what could be better than having your own cut flowers and the scent wafting through the house.
Two plants in a window box.
The Variety is Romance from Whetman Pinks, and the scent is very strong
I thought I would share some ’Innovation’ which came out of a recent conversation with Barrie Gamble and Peter Booker whilst on our journey to the Council meeting in Peterborough.
Both Barrie and Peter are progressive thinkers and are not afraid to ‘experiment’ in their growing techniques, whether this is via new composts, fertilisers or something altogether different.
By way of example, both have been experimenting with household bleach in their greenhouse husbandry and propagating methods. It may well be that some of you have already travelled down this road but for me this was new and untried ‘territory’
Both use a strong bleach solution in pressure sprayers and at the end of each season their greenhouses and growing frames are given a good spray of bleach which is then hosed off with a pressure washer about an hour later. All parts of the greenhouse and staging are treated which ensures their start to the New Year is both pest and rust free.
It is the treatment of their cuttings which I found fascinating and dare I say somewhat unusual. Peter is the first grower I am aware of to begin this method.
Both are experimenting with a weak dilution of bleach in which their new cutting material is immersed prior to insertion into the compost.
Both report the cuttings are immersed and moved around in the bleach solution for a short period of time and then removed and trimmed as usual, dipped into hormone rooting powder and placed in cutting cells.
They report the treatment is good for destroying any pests and diseases which are active or lying dormant on the cutting and will destroy any pests or their eggs visible to the naked eye.
The cuttings are reported to have grown away well once inserted into the growing medium.
HOWEVER Caution is needed if using this practice and both Barrie and Peter state the technique MUST be tried on a few cuttings ONLY before any large scale attempt is practised.
Both admit they have and continue to experiment with the dilution rates of bleach to try to ascertain the optimum rates for successful treatment of the cutting material. Neither is prepared to suggest what the dilution rates should be other than it should be ‘weak.’
As we are all aware growing techniques and methods vary from individual to individual and what works for one grower may not necessarily work for another and so it is with this bleach method discussed here.
If you do decide to try a few cuttings then please begin with a weak bleach solution to see how the method works for you BEFORE progressing to more cuttings or a stronger solution.
Finally in sharing this information, no endorsement of this method is made by the Society or the editor and success is not intended nor implied, this should be clearly understood.
However, should success by enjoyed and a safe dilution rate be identified then I would ask ‘future experimenters’ to share any success or indeed any failures they experience with the rest of our membership.
Only by pushing the boundaries, seeking out pro-active and innovative new methods of culture will real progress be made in the future.
I for one intend to try a few cuttings using this method and I do mean a ‘few’ in the event it does not work for me.
Perhaps our members will let me have their thoughts in due course which I will be only to pleased to publish in a future newsletter.
National plant Collection (Malmaisons)
Plants To Highgrove
Growing Pinks my Way
Six varieties of perpetual carnations
Growing my Way
Oh No, not carnations
Hydroponic Culture of