The colors and spicy fragrance make carnations a "must" for the hobbyist who wants flowers for cutting. The continuing supply of blooms over several months from an area 5 feet long by the width of the bench will be richly rewarding. Purchase cuttings from your florist or garden center, preferably in December cuttings taken early seem to root best. Dip cut ends in root-promoting powder and insert in sand in a flat or cutting bed with bottom heat. Usually the root system is sufficiently large in three weeks to transplant to the bench. Bench soil should be a mixture of equal parts sand, leafmold, and garden loam, plus a little superphosphate. Ideal benching distance is from 6 to 10 inches apart, but with space at such a premium, I crowd mine to 4 inches and grow them without pinching.
When transplanting, set at same level in the soil as previously planted, otherwise stem rot may result. Carnations like plenty of ventilation, bright sunshine, and a cool temperature. For December cuttings no fertilizer will be necessary until February, then apply 4-12-4 fertilizer for the next three months. Carnations should be supported during their entire growth with bench wiring frames or similar arrangements. Disbudding is recommended to allow one bud to develop to a large size by removing all other buds on the stem, but I suggest this be done with only about half the stems, as the side buds furnish blossoms of various sizes ideal for floral arrangements.
If you select one or two plants for growing on as stock plants, you will have your own supply of cutting material to start your next crop. Stock plants should be pinched heavily until September to induce side branching.
'Marguerite', fully double flowers in wide range of colors, excellent for cutting, blooms in five months from seed: 'Chabaud', large, fragrant, double apricot-orange striped and flushed with scarlet; 'Petite Pink', the first miniature F1 hybrid carnation, fully double, deliciously fragrant 2-inch flowers on long wiry stems.