Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on April 26, 1999. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Plant Captures Hearts Months After Bloom
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
During last October's Fall Garden Day in Crystal Springs, people kept asking about a plant they thought was gorgeous. This really did my heart good because I could see these gardeners had arrived at a special plateau.
You see, it had been six months since this plant had had an explosion of pink blossoms. These gardeners were simply admiring the color, leaf texture, and form of this plant and realized it was something they needed in their garden. Wow! If only they could have seen the plant bloom!
The plant is closely related to a group that is purchased by the thousands this time of the year and grown as an annual. This lovely plant that I have been leading you on about is the Bath's Pink dianthus. I know you are thinking, "Isn't that the annual I buy every year that sometimes makes it through the summer?" No, this is a plant of a different nature.
This herbaceous perennial looks good in the garden 12 months out of the year. Try making a list of perennials, no woodies, that you can say that about.
This plant was a Georgia Gold Medal winner and obviously if our gardeners are raving about it six months after its bloom, then it probably would qualify as one of our Mississippi Medallion winners. Well, maybe next year.
Plant Bath's Pink dianthus 12 to 18 inches apart in well-drained soil, and within two seasons, you will have a handsome ground cover of gray-green foliage 4 to 6 inches high.
The unique, colorful, grassy foliage remains attractive throughout the year, and the plant is very heat resistant and cold tolerant.
When spring arrives, Bath's Pink dianthus sends up an abundance of bright pink, ruffled flowers about 1 to 2 inches across that last for more than a month. These blooms are borne on stalks about 12 inches high yet cover the foliage like a cloud of pink.
Bath's Pink dianthus is beautiful as a landscape plant and requires little maintenance. Fertilize plants after flowering, and two to three times during the growing season, with light applications of a complete fertilizer with a 3-1-2 ratio. Divide and thin plants when they become thick and dense.
Its vigorous and spreading nature is another selling point. You will find it easy to divide and plant in other parts of the landscape.
If you are looking for a ground cover, and especially one that blooms, then Bath's Pink dianthus is the one for you. It would work great as a companion plant with purple heart.
It also seems to look natural planted in a border where you would grow old garden roses in various shades of pink or white. It is one of our best perennials. I hope you will try some.