The Long-Lasting Carnation

August 15, 2017 / Blooms Today

Many a youngster and adult has crafted a carnation with a tissue and bobby pin or
tissue paper and pipe cleaner. Thousands of them may be made annually to fill chicken
wire on floats for parades, and thousands more real ones are part of floats in the annual Tournament of Roses or Rose Bowl Parade on New Year’s Day.





White-CarnationThe carnation is a ubiquitous blossom for its sturdy stem and long lasting bloom, as well as pretty crinkles, multitude of colors, affordability and large or mini sized. They are staples in bouquets and arrangements and wildly popular in boutonnières and corsages. It holds special honors as the state flower of Ohio, birth month flower for January, official Mother’s Day flower and first wedding anniversary flower.


Red-CarnationCarnations were popular in ancient Greece, where they debated whether the name came from “corone” meaning flower garland or from “carnis” meaning flesh for its pale pink color. Today’s carnations come in many colors with each one carrying some special symbolism.



  • Stripped-CarnationWhite, pure love
  • Pink, mother’s love
  • Deep Red, deep love
  • Purple, capriciousness
  • Yellow, disappointment
  • Light Red, admiration
  • Striped, regret
  • Green, St. Patrick’s Day


Pink-White-CarnationGardeners love carnations for rock gardens, containers or flower beds and can choose between annual, biennial or perennial types. They grow tall on strong stems up to two feet with white, pink and red the most popular home-grown varieties. Well-draining, slightly alkaline soil with full sunlight part of each day contributes to success along with good air circulation at the stems, i.e., no mulch. Carnations can be started from seed or cutting.


Peach-CarnationA couple of interesting traditions include wearing carnations during exams at Oxford University, and men in the Deep South would wear a white carnation on Mother’s Day if their mom had passed away and a pink or red one for living mothers.

At, carnations play many roles from center stage, accent color and supporting flowers in many bouquets and arrangements. The large ones are prominent in Cheerful Greetings, where their bright red color draws the eye into the bouquet. Soft lavender carnations bring lustrous texture and fullness to the FTD® Delightful Discoveries™ Bouquet by Vera Wang. Mini pink carnations lend a pop of subtle color to the Spirit of Sunshine bouquets, and the Classic All White Special sports mini white carnations for an elegant appeal. There is no reason to make your own carnation when the real ones are found in many of the professionally-designed floral arrangements at

By Joanne M. Anderson

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