Your Year Around Flower and Garden Guide

Red Perennial Dianthus

For a striking red accent in your perennial garden, plant "Pinks!"

Cinnamon Red and Ruby's Tuesday are just a few varieties of the red perennial dianthus, commonly called "pinks". A small flower, the red perennial dianthus grows in mounds of profuse and spectacular blossoms that are acutely accented by foliage that is unique to each cultivar. Frosty Fire is a bright red perennial dianthus that coyly dances on slender stems over icy-looking leaves.


Although red perennial dianthus cultivars are a favorite because of their vibrant color, dianthus grows in many shades of red, ranging from white to purple. Dianthus is a large family of diminutive flowers, which bear names almost as striking as their blooms. Rosies, Purple Bouquet, Spotty, Fancy Knickers, Arctic Star, Spangles Star and Firewitch are just a few of the many varieties of dianthus that add whimsy and spice to the perennial flower garden.

The whimsical red perennial dianthus is a plant that is loaded with personality. A close relative of the carnation and cousin to Sweet William, in its natural state the red perennial dianthus blooms in bright red mounds or spreading carpets of single flowers over pointy, grass like foliage. Blossoms may be solid in color or decorated with stripes, flecks, or margins of a contrasting color. Petals are intricately fringed, toothed and in some cultivars appear to be bearded with tiny hairs.

Promptly remove spent blossoms and the red perennial dianthus blooms from mid summer to early fall. Nearly as prolific in propagation as it is in bloom, the dianthus will reseed in profusion. To stay vigorous, the dianthus needs to be divided every two to three years.

A native of southern Europe and the Mediterranean, the red perennial dianthus has been cultivated for over 2,000 years and was mentioned in writings by Theophrastus as early as 300 BC. Whether cascading over a stonewall, spilling over the edge of a container, or standing short but proudly at the border of your perennial garden, the red perennial dianthus still makes a giant impact on the modern perennial garden.