The Q&A Archives: Carnation Germination

Question: I've just begun to germinate carnations for cutting. Last year, I bought two four inch pots that turned out to be dwarf plants. I would like to grow the lovely long stemmed ones that the florists sell. About two days ago the seeds sprouted and havebegun to grow vigorously, but they seem fragile, thin, and flimsy. They don't appear at all like they will become sturdy plants. Is this simply the way that carnations begin, or is there something I can do to help them?<br>Thanks.

Answer: There are two distinct categories of carnations: florists' and border. Florist's carnations are grown in greenhouses or outdoors in mild winter areas, where they'll grow to 4 feet high. For largest blooms, leave only the terminal bloom on each stem and pinch out all other buds down to the fifth joint, below which new flowering stems will develop. It's normal for carnations to need support as they grow. Your seedlings should become sturdier as they mature, providing they have ample light. Keep the source of artificial light about 6 inches above the tops of the plants. If you've direct sown your seeds, provide supports to the plants and they'll become stronger as they mature in the full sunshine in your garden.

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