Flowers in the genus Dianthus are charming, and Dianthus chinensis is no exception. They are also called “Chinese pinks” or “rainbow pinks” due to their flashy magenta petals. You may have seen these bright pink beauties at your local garden center and bought them on impulse.
But do you know everything about taking care of them? Our guide to Dianthus chinensis will help. We will cover everything about these neon pink blossoms. There will also be a section for trivia, including tips on how to identify your strain of D. Chinensis, whether it is safe for pets, and whether it is safe for you. Here are some things every horticulturist should know about caring for their plants.
Facts About Dianthus Chinensis
A lot of interesting facts about this plant. It is very much encouraged to know it before deciding to have this plant at your home. Here are a few facts about your new floral friends that you may not know:
As the name might suggest, Dianthus chinensis is native to China, Korea, Mongolia, and southern Russia. It usually has bright pink flowers with a deeper pink center and whitish, frilly edges. The name “pink” originated because the ruffled edges look like they were made by pinking shears. Maybe the color “pink” came from these flowers instead!
You probably got Dianthus chinensis for its magenta flowers. Like many members of the genus Dianthus, D. Chinensis often bloom in pairs or clusters. Don’t worry about withered leaves beneath those beautiful blossoms; this is normal for the plant. If a flower dies, please cut it off (“deadhead” it) so the plant can focus its resources on making more flowers.
Also, note that D. Chinensis can spread itself. Make space for a plant around 2.5 feet tall and wide, but don’t be surprised if some more pinks start to sprout!
But these Chinese pinks are more than just colorful!
Types of Dianthus Chinensis
With how popular it is in gardens, D. Chinensis has many captive-bred varieties (“cultivars”) and colors. Here are a few of the most popular strains if you think your D.chinensis looks different from the wild variety!
Sometimes called “Dianthus amurensis,” but not technically a species depending on who you ask. Bright or grey-purple flowers make it as close as you can get to a “true blue” D. Chinensis. Siberian Blue takes humidity and cold better than most strains but does not live as long.
Sold only by Coronet, these soft pink blooms have large, single flowers. Read zoning details carefully.
Taking Care Dianthus Chinensis
Every plant has different rules for taking care of it, and Dianthus chinensis is no exception. So, we’ve broken this section down to make sure your Dianthus chinensis will live a full, healthy life. So, hopefully, it will even live long enough to come back next season!
Temperature and Light
Provide full light during most of the day. Only put this plant in shade during times of particularly intense sunlight. D. Chinensis seeds can be planted after the last frost date when planted directly. D. Chinensis prefers USDA hardiness zones of 6–9. So, the best-growing temp is 65–70 degrees F.
If you live in a temperate climate, you should have very few problems growing Dianthus chinensis outside in your yard or a pot outdoors.
Dianthus chinensis likes either dry or medium-moisture soil. Poorly-drained soil may lead to crown rot or rust. It may also attract moisture-loving pests such as slugs or snails. The soil should also have a pH of 6.0–8.0, or around the pH of water, if you have the means to check for that. (If not, ask your garden center about checking your soil’s acidity.)
Water your Chinese pinks when the soil feels dry. These plants prefer a big soak once a week as opposed to frequent watering.
Poison or Medicine?
If you have pets, do not plant Dianthus chinensis in the house. This plant is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. Eating it may cause vomiting and skin irritation. So, call a vet immediately if you think your pet has ingested Dianthus chinensis.
In its homeland of China, however, D. Chinensis is used in traditional medicine. So, it has been cultivated for centuries as a treatment for digestive issues, eye problems, and swelling. Some studies even suggest that it might cure cancer, but don’t try this at home! Even taking properly-measured doses is risky. So, leave it as a decorative plant outside to keep everybody happy and safe.
Chinese Pink Hybrids
Hybrids with Chinese pink contain other species of Dianthus. Here are just a few:
A small (8-inch tall), bright red variety. Made by Syngenta/Goldsmith Seeds. The other species is a trade secret.
Floral Lace Dianthus
D. chinensis x barbatus. Comes in a wide variety of colors. This hybrid is distinguished by extra-frilly flowers, so if you want more frills on your blossoms, look for Floral Lace.
Known more for its uniform cover than its color. So, if you want a Dianthus with good ground cover, seek out this variety of D. Chinensis in any color you like. Again, the breeder was not clear on the other species.
More Like This
Is Chinese pink not your color? There are other members of the genus Dianthus with the same “two for one” flower deal, but not the same care requirements or coloration. Some D. Chinensis have been cultivated to be deeper red or white rather than pink. But what if you like D. Chinensis, but feel like there’s a plant that’s just a little more you out there?
So, check out this table to see if there’s another Dianthus you might like:
|D. japonicus||Japan||More white than pink. Very frilly edges.|
|D. monspessulanus||Mainland Europe, including France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Albania, and Yugoslavia.||AKA the “fringed pink.” Good ground cover, and it is also very fragrant in summer.|
|D. caryophyllus||The Mediterranean? Extensively cultivated.||Also known as the carnation in modern gardens. Did you know your Dianthus was related to carnations?|
If you bought Dianthus Chinensis on impulse, don’t worry. Unless you live in a particularly humid or dry environment, this plant is easy to take care of! It has some basic requirements but will acclimate well to most temperate environments. If it can endure Russia, it can probably handle your mistakes. So, it may even bloom twice a year for a bright pink encore performance!
If you are interested in reading more about plants and how to take care of them, you can read about Spider Plants, Winter Cherry Plants, Peace Lily Plants, Urn Plants, Peperomia Plants, and Rubber Plants.
Elyssa Goins is an experienced house plant hobbyist who maintains over a hundred plants. She is a gardener, beekeeper, and a proud mother of four. She is a member of the American Horticultural Society, has been published in a Scientific Journal, and loves to talk about her love of plants. For the past twenty years, she’s been all about growing and caring for various fruits, veggies, herbs, livestock, kids, and houseplants. Managing a big garden to feed four growing kids and raising dairy goats has taught her so much about being an excellent plant parent and now is her time to share with you.