You probably added dianthus to your flower garden for its sweet clover smell and the beautiful radially symmetrical blooms. While they are beautiful and easy to grow, they can sometimes get leggy and fall over. But why does this happen?
Your dianthus keep falling over if their stems get too long (a.k.a “leggy”) due to insufficient sunlight. They can also fall over when the root system is not formed well enough, or they get the wrong soil, fertilizer, or watering schedule. Some varieties are more prone to falling over.
In this article, I will explore the various reasons your dianthus keeps falling over and provide ways to prevent that from happening. Keep reading to learn more.
Why Dianthus Blooms Fall Over
Regardless of the cause, dianthus blooms fall over when the flowers are too heavy for the stems to hold upright. This can happen due to several reasons. The following are the main reasons that carnations (Dianthus Caryophyllus) tend to fall over:
Carnations need a good amount of sunlight to grow properly. Otherwise, they tend to “reach out” toward the sun and can become very leggy (source).
If dianthus blooms don’t get enough sunlight, they grow long stems that are structurally weaker. As such, they can support the weight of the buds, but once they bloom, they become top-heavy and fall over.
Too Much Wind
Another thing that could potentially make your dianthus fall over is the wind. This is especially true when they get very tall because the stems are not strong enough to withstand strong winds. I don’t mean hurricane-level winds, but even a strong breeze (25-31 mph, or 40-50 km/h) has the potential to knock your pinkies over.
Rich Soil, Wrong Fertilizer
While it may seem counterintuitive, soil with more nutrients is not suitable for dianthus bushes. They evolved to grow in conditions where the soil is very lean.
The added nutrients give the plants a burst of growth, making the buds bloom too early. As such, the stems are still immature in comparison, and the blooms fall over.
Water is one of the most critical factors in the growth of any plant, and getting the balance between over and under-watering is critical. While you do not need to water dianthus plants every day, they prefer moist and well-drained soil. Two things can happen with improper watering that can cause the blooms to fall over:
- Root rot: A direct result of overwatering the soil is the growth of fungus on the roots, which deems the root system inefficient and incapable of supplying the plant with enough water for optimal growth (source).
- Dry soil: Dianthus can dry out if left without water for too long. The cells in the plant become weak and eventually fall over.
While there are multiple factors that you can change to ensure that your dianthus blooms are not getting leggy and falling over, genetics can’t be changed.
Some varieties are more prone to growing taller, especially if they were bred for florists (the long stems come in handy).
Examples of florists’ carnations include Chabaud’s Giant Improved and William Sim. These are plants that are modified through farming to produce longer stems, which inevitably cause the flower to droop downwards.
Ways To Prevent Your Dianthus From Getting Leggy
Now that you understand the various problems that could cause your beautiful carnations to get leggy and fall over instead of standing upright, you can begin implementing prevention methods. Here are a few things you can do to prevent your dianthus from getting leggy:
You already know how important water is to your plant’s health. However, it can be tricky trying to find a balance. To avoid overwatering or drying out your dianthus bushes, this is what you need to do:
- Inspect the soil beneath the bushes regularly.
- Stick your finger into the soil. If the soil is powdery and falls off, it’s dry. If the soil sticks slightly, it is moist.
- Do not water your dianthus unless the soil is slightly dry. If the soil is wet or moist, wait a couple of days.
Placement in Your Garden
Landscaping is not only about aesthetics. Sometimes, you will need to place your dianthus flowers in the right spot despite there being a more visually pleasing placement for them. To find the right spot for dianthus in your garden, here’s what you need to do:
- Find a place that doesn’t get too much wind, or surround it with higher bushes that will provide protection against wind.
- Ensure that your dianthus is planted where they can get at least 8 hours of direct sunlight.
Type of Soil
Finally, make sure that you are using the right type of soil. Remember that carnations originate from Europe, where the soil is lean and tends to be rocky as well. To mimic the natural habitat these bushes evolved to grow in, consider skipping the fertilizer unless the plants show yellow spots.
Another great trick is to place gravel at the base of the plants to ensure that the soil drains properly. You may also want to consider adding organic material such as mulch or compost at the base of your dianthus to ensure that they do not fall downwards.
Prune the First Bloom
It’s a good idea to prune the first few blooms you see on your dianthus, ensuring you do not remove too much of the plant. This will give the root system more time to develop and act as structural support while stimulating future growth.
Caring for your dianthus plants is not as complicated as it sounds. Even though they bloom fairly easily, many people find that the blooms practically fall over on the first day.
While they may fall over, that does not mean they have lost any of their beauty.
Even so, you always have the option to prune them and wait for the next buds to bloom. Then, lay back and enjoy your beautiful dianthus flowers.