Monday, March 21, 2011

Firewitch Dianthus Pinks

Planted three - two in the front garden and one in a pot in the west garden.

The Perennial Plant Association selected Dianthus gratianopolitanus Firewitch' (Feuerhexe') as its 2006 Perennial Plant of the Year. Also known as a cheddar pink, the perennial dianthus is an excellent choice for use as an edging plant, as a rock garden specimen, to soften retaining walls, and in container gardens.

Firewitch' has hot pink flowers that bloom profusely in mid to late spring, with some repeat bloom in summer and fall if you deadhead faded blooms. As an added bonus, the flowers have a spicy clove-like fragrance. The bluish-gray evergreen foliage forms solid mats, making it an excellent ground cover, even when not in bloom. Plants reach only 3-4 inches tall, though the blooming stems add a few more inches.

Dianthus performs best in full sun, though light shade is helpful in particularly hot locations. The plant is rather adaptable, but well-drained soil is a must. Plants are hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9. Plants are easy to propagate by division or by stem cuttings taken just before or immediately after flowering.

This particular selection of Dianthus was introduced by a German nursery in 1957 as Fererhexe' but was mostly unknown in the United States until the late 1980s, when a Connecticut nursery (Sunny Border) took up its cultivation. Commonly sold now as Firewitch' in the United States, you can find it in many local garden centers and mail-order catalogs, wherever perennials are sold.

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