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Dainty dianthus

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SPLENDID SIGHT Dianthus flowers
SPLENDID SIGHT Dianthus flowers

Dianthus comes in an amazing variation of pattern and colour

Dianthus comprises two Greek words - `Dios', referring to the Greek god Jove or Zeus and `anthos', meaning flower. Together the words mean `flowers of God' or `divine flowers'. The bewildering variation in colour and pattern of Dianthus flowers, earns it its name. The genus Dianthos of family Caryophyllaceae comprises 300 species of annuals, evergreen perennials and sub-shrubs of the Mediterranean region, Asia and Africa. They have opposite pairs of leaves and few-petalled flowers. While the leaves are linear and grey-green, the petals are wide and held by tubular calyces and this is characteristic of the Dianthus genus. Under the genus, garden pinks (derived from Dianthus plumarius, carnations (derived from Dianthus caryophyllus) and Sweet Williams (Dianthus barbatus) are popular cultivar groups, with a reputation for requiring specialised treatment. Their ancient lineage has been recorded for centuries. Garden pinks (also called carnations by many) have been classified into the following four groups: One colour (Selfs), Bi-colour, Laced pinks, and Fancies that have irregular marked colouration and are free flowering. Fancies are most preferred though they deteriorate rapidly. The colours and pattern of petals do not come true from seed propagation. Propagation through cutting and air layering is ideal to get the parental colour. Carnations have undergone various changes over the centuries in different countries. Three cultivar groups are recognised depending on survival duration: Annual, Border and Perpetual. Within these there is a further classification, depending on colour and petal pattern namely, Selfs, Fancies and Picotes. Provide shade during the establishing months, though all cultivars respond to air layering. Planting cuttings and sowing seed are generally practised. See that the soil is well-drained and humus-rich and, the surroundings, airy and sunny. Rock gardens, dry walls, raised and scree beds are suitable for Dianthus.J. MANGALRAJ JOHNSON

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