These long-time industry standards are again gaining favor among
all in the
family. Carnations, which are
also, but less commonly, known as “clove pinks,” are
botanically classified as Dianthus Caryophyllus (dy-AN-thus
care-ee-oh-FILL-us) and are members of the
Caryophyllaceae (pink) family. In addition to sweet
William (D. barbatus), carnations’ close relatives include
baby’s breath (Gypsophila) and soapwort (Saponaria).
at you. Carnations’ round,
ruffly petaled blooms, which are often doubles, grow to 3
inches in diameter. Stems are long (up to 3 feet); straight
and stiffly firm; and bulbous at the nodes, or joints, at
which the leaves grow. Leaves are slender, and the stems and
leaves range in hue from gray-green to blue-green.
head of the
class. Carnations have single
large blooms, which are created by “disbudding”—removing
side blooms so that all the energy of a plant goes to a
single bloom at the top of the stem.
Carnation, Clove pink
Photo courtesy of HilverdaKooij B.V.
color the world. There are hundreds of
varieties of carnations, resulting in these flowers being obtainable
in virtually every hue except blue. Both solid colors and bicolors
latin lovelies. Although carnations are
available year-round from both domestic and foreign growers,
approximately 90 percent of the carnations sold in the U.S. today
are grown in Colombia.
Carnations are typically
packaged in bunches of 25 stems. Blooms in tight bud form are
desirable because they last longer, and they will open into
high-quality flowers. Check bunches for broken stems, which can
occur at the nodes (some varieties’ stems are more brittle than
others), as well as split calyxes.
making the grade. Carnations are usually
available in various “grades” (e.g., select, fancy, standard,
short), which are determined by stem length, strength and
straightness; bloom size; and freedom from defects or damage.
asphyxiation. These flowers are highly
sensitive to ethylene gas, which accelerates petal wilting (referred
to as “sleepiness”). While bud-stage flowers are less sensitive to
ethylene than mature flowers, it’s important to ensure all your
purchases are treated with an ethylene inhibitor at the grower level
or during shipping. In addition, keep them away from sources of
ethylene in your shop such as decaying flowers and foliage,
automobile exhaust, tobacco smoke and fruit.
care giving. Unpack carnations
immediately upon their arrival in your store, and check flower
quality. Remove all stem bindings, and strip foliage from the lower
portions of the stems—the portions that will be under water in
Next, recut stems with a clean, sharp blade, removing
at least 1 inch of stem. Immediately after cutting, dip or place the
stems into a hydration solution to help the flowers take up water
more quickly, then place them into a sterilized storage container
partially filled with properly prepared flower-food solution.
cool down. Immediately after
processing, place carnations into a floral cooler at 33 F to 35 F,
with a humidity level of 85 percent to 95 percent, for at least two
hours before arranging or selling them. Except for design time, keep
these flowers refrigerated until they’re sold or delivered. Research
shows that a one-day interruption, at 68 F, in an average 47 F cold
chain from grower to consumer, can result in a three-day loss in
facts of life. Depending on variety,
care and stage of maturity at the time of harvest, carnations can
last from six to 21 days at the consumer level.
how irritating. Carnations can cause
minor illness if ingested, and frequent handling of these flowers
can cause contact dermatitis in some people.
name calling. The genus name “Dianthus”
comes from the Greek Di (of Zeus or Jove) or dios
(divine) and anthos (flower), so it means flower of Jove or
divine flower. The common name “carnation” comes from the Latin
carnis, meaning flesh, alluding to the original pale pink color
of the flowers.
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