Monday, August 24, 2009

Planting Carnations From Seed

By Keith Markensen

Planting Process

In preparing the soil for the flats to grow carnations, use two parts fresh garden soil to each one part of coarse sand and one part humus or compost. Carnations are one of the few plants which should not be potted firmly. The soil should be shaken down, but not pressed. A good method of scattering the small seeds is to use a salt shaker; then after the seeds are in place, a kitchen sifter may be used to shake just enough soil to hide the seeds. This soil should be pressed lightly. Then the pots or flats may be placed in a container of warm water for several minutes, just enough to soak the soil well, but not to run over the edge of the flat.

Plastic bags make good coverings for the flats. This provides warmth as well as proper humidity for the seedlings. If the bags do not contain holes for ventilation, punch several openings before covering the flats.

Later watering may be done through a piece of burlap to prevent washing the tiny seedlings from the soil. Plants tray be thinned by using a pair of tweezers so that other plants will not be damaged when removing unwanted growths. The flats should be reversed every day to prevent the seedlings from leaning toward the light. When four or more leaves develop, transplant the seedlings two inches apart into larger flats or small pots.

Although carnation plants, especially the new improved strains, may be lifted in the fall, cut back, and potted up for indoor winter flowering, the small greenhouse gardener will find they are impractical for indoor cultivation. For the average gardener, outdoor planting is preferable.

Permanent planting for carnations should be about six inches apart with rows at least 12 inches apart. I also do this in caladium planting. I consider planting caladium as an easy but needs so much care and preparation. This is also like permanent planting for carnations, it should be done as early as spring weather permits. It is important that the plants not be set too deeply, or stem rot may result. Soil in which carnations are planted should be moderately rich and loose, perhaps two feet deep, giving the plants ample feeding room. A copious supply of well-rotted manure or other fertilizers should be worked into the soil before the transplanting is done. The soil should be moist at the time of transplanting, but not wet. The newly set plants should be kept uniformly moist, but never over-saturated.

Beginning about eight weeks after transplanting the small plants to their permanent location, monthly applications of a commercially prepared fertilizer should be used, preferably the type which is dissolved in water and poured around the base of the plant.

Soon after transplanting the carnations permanently, pinch the plants back to about three inches in height. This pinching will develop sturdy bush-like plants. Occasionally it becomes necessary to stake a plant to prevent its spreading flowers over the ground.

Bedding carnations will bloom from seeds in six to eight months. However, growers often prefer to treat them as perennials, expecting top flower development only from the two year old plants.

As may be expected, there are certain enemies to the cultivation of carnations. However, if the seedlings are carefully protected, the plants are sturdy enough to resist most plant problems.

Carnations deserve a chance to prove their worth in the home garden. The rewards are certainly worth the minimum of care and attention required. Although it might not be feasible to plan a do-it-yourself corsage for junior's Big Moment, at least Mom can expect a plentiful supply of fragrant flowers for the house throughout the summer.

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