Course CodeVHT110
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


Learn to Grow Carnations

  • as a cut flower crop
  • in a greenhouse or in the field
  • using hydroponics, in pots, or in soil.

This course is relevant to growing any of the Dianthus cultivars. It will have the greatest relevance to growing carnations; because they are the most significant type of Dianthus in cultivation.

Carnations are grown widely around the world as a cut flower crop, a bedding plant and in other ways as a decorative plant (eg. As a pot plant)

Related Dianthus species and cultivars are widely grown as ornamental flowers, both being treated as annuals, and as perennials; as bedding plants, container plants and rockery plants. This course can be every bit as relevant to these situations as to growing cult flowers..


What are Carnations?


Carnations are plants bred and selected from clove scented species of Dianthus. The original development started in the 19th century. In 1903 a breeder (Mr H. Burnett, Guernsey) developed a perpetual flowering carnation as a hybrid. The development of other hybrids followed rapidly.


There are two main types grown as cut flowers are ‘Standard’ and ‘Spray’.

  • Standards have the side buds removed, to produce a long stem with one terminal flower. Most standards grown are bred from an American cultivar called "William Sim"
  • Sprays are not disbudded. They are grown with many flowers branching from a stem, and are sold as a bunch.


Description of Selected Species


D. barbatus

Commonly known as “Sweet William” - this is an annual, short lived but with spectacular and diverse flowering.

Foliage is nearly glaborous, leaves have a short petiole, leaves are lanceolate with a pronounced mid rib; growing up to 70cm tall (many cultivars much shorter though), Cymes (flower heads are relatively flat topped, flowers often doubles (ie. double row of petals, with inside row bearded),


D. caryophyllus

Sometimes called “Carnation”; strongly perfumed with a clove scent, this is a parent of many of the modern “carnations”. 

Relatively upright growth habit (may need support) 35cm to 1m tall; foliage is glaucous (blue green), leaves are 7 to 15 cm long; flowers relatively large (perhaps 2 to 8cm diameter, commonly 2 to 5 flowers on a flower head.


D. gratianopolitanus

One of the best known species, commonly known as Cheddar Pink (It was discovered on slopes near Cheddar in England.)

Blue-green linear to lanceolate shaped narrow leaves, stems growing around 6 to 20cm long

Flowers are rosy pink, occurring singly or in small numbers, petals are bearded, toothed


D. plumarius

Strongly clove scented; sometimes called Cottage Pink.

A spreading - mat forming plant sometimes to around 30cm tall; Leaves are very narrow, glabrous and glaucous. Usually one to three flowers in a flower head; calyx to around 2.5cm long, petals often purplish fringed with a different colour.


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • Physiology
    • Information sources
  2. Culture
    • Planting
    • staking
    • mulching
    • watering
    • feeding
    • pruning, etc.
  3. Propagation
    • Methods of propagating this group of plants
    • Propagation of selected varieties
  4. Hydroponics
  5. Pest and Disease
  6. Irrigation
  7. Greenhouse Management
  8. Harvest, Post Harvest and Quality

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


 The ideal growing requirements can vary from one species and cultivar to the next.

  • Most do best in a mild temperate climate.
  • Some can be cultivated in sub-tropical regions; at least during certain times of the year.
  • Many will tolerate periods of extreme cold

Temperature Needs
Most plants will survive below freezing. Some species tolerate much lower temperatures than others, for example:

  • Perpetual flowering cultivars, commonly grown as cut flowers are best grown at temperatures between 12 degrees C at night and 19 degrees C in the day. Temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius can cause damage to flowers. Day temperatures over 21 degrees C can reduce flowering; and increasing temperature and humidity can cause disease and pest problems. .Aim for temperatures no lower than 7 celsius in winter, if possible.
  • Malmaison carnations –over winter temperatures to 2 degrees C
  • Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William) can survive temperatures below zero degrees Celsius
  • Dianthus gratianopolitanus can tolerate temperatures many degrees under zero Celsius.
  • Dianthus chinensis can tolerate to between minus 12 and minus 17 degrees Celsius, depending on the cultivar)
    Flowering of carnations can decrease at temperatures over 21 or below 10 degrees celsius.

Light Requirements
Long days will stimulate formation of flower buds; and short days will significantly slow (but not stop) the formation of flowers. Low light intensity will also greatly reduce the development of flowers

  • Artificial lighting can be used in winter to stimulate a flower crop; provided night temperatures are maintained at 10 to 12 degrees C
  • Some cultivars do not respond to artificial lighting as well as others.
  • Artificial lighting involves applying a long day length for 2 to 3 weeks followed by short day lengths for 2 to 3 weeks. Sometimes a second period (2-3 weeks) of long days is then applied. Combined with minimum night temperatures of 10 to 12 degrees C, this can stimulate significant out of season flower production on appropriate cultivars. Carnations should have shoots at least 15cm long before commencing artificial lighting.
  • Excessively long periods of light can result in too much growth going into flowers, and not enough into foliage; and this can cause a subsequent decrease in flower production later on. It is all about balancing the flowering with the vegetative growth.
  • Malmaison Carnations may need shading from sun in mid summer.



Business or Employment Opportunities may include

  • Cut Flower Production
  • Flower marketing
  • Floristry
  • Breeding
  • Seed Production
  • Nursery Plant Production
  • Herbs –eg. Dianthus production for perfumery oils, medicinal, culinary, or craft use
  • Landscaping


Meet some of our academics

Adriana Fraser Adriana has worked in horticulture since the 1980's. She has lived what she preaches - developing large gardens and growing her own fruit, vegetables and herbs and making her own preserves. In 1992 she formalised her training by graduating with a certificate in horticulture and a few years later, completed a Advanced Diploma in Horticulture amongst other qualifications. Adriana has worked across a broad spectrum of the horticulture industry and has developed a strong network of contacts in horticulture around Australia and beyond. She has written and contributed to many books and magazine articles. She has a passion for plant knowledge and sustainability and a natural understanding of how people learn about horticulture and has taught in various institutions and organistions as well as ACS. Adriana has been a tutor with ACS since the mid 90's and based on the feedback from past students has been an overwhelming success in helping people develop their skills and further careers in horticulture.
Gavin Cole Gavin started his career studying building and construction in the early 80's. Those experiences have provided a very solid foundation for his later work in landscaping. In 1988 he completed a B.Sc. and a few years later a Certificate in Garden Design. In the mid 90's he worked as a manager and garden designer with the well respected UK company -The Chelsea Gardener. A few years later he formed his own garden design business, at first in the UK, and later operating in Queensland Australia. He has since moved to, and works from Adelaide. Apart from his work in landscaping, Gavin has been a prolific garden writer and a tutor with ACS Distance Education since 2001. He is currently part of the team of garden experts that produce Home Grown magazine.
John Mason Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Rosemary Davies Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences. Initially she worked with the Department of Agriculture in Victoria providing advice to the public. Over the years she has taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer. She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe. In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others. Rosemary has a B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing

Check out our eBooks

HerbsHerbs are fascinating plants, mystical and romantic. They have a rich history dating back centuries. Used by monks, apothecaries and ‘witches’ in the past, herbs are undergoing a revival in interest. They are easy to grow, scented, culinary and medicinal plants. In a formal herb garden or peppered throughout the garden, herbs rarely fail! Find out how they are used as medicines, for cooking, perfumes and more.
Scented PlantsScented plants can be either a delight or a curse. For many people, there is nothing more pleasing than a garden filled with fragrance, but for others who suffer allergies, certain plants can make them physically ill; sometimes very seriously.
Starting a Nursery or Herb FarmIt's often amazing how much can be produced, and the profit that can be made from a few hundred square meters of land. To work efficiently and profitably, a nursery or herb farm must be both well organised and properly managed. As with any business, it is essential to be confident enough to make firm decisions as and when needed. This e-book is your ticket to a fragrant future.
What to Plant WhereA great guide for choosing the right plant for a particular position in the garden. Thirteen chapters cover: plant selection, establishment, problems, and plants for wet areas. Shade, hedges and screens, dry gardens, coastal areas, small gardens, trees and shrubs, lawns and garden art.



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