Editor’s Note: Each month, the Greenhouse Grower varieties team chooses one noteworthy variety we think is worth bringing to your attention. Then we share growers’ and breeders’ perspectives on the best ways to produce it successfully at your operation.
This month we feature Dianthus ‘Pink Kisses’ from Selecta, a new type of pot carnation that is easy to cultivate in any given container size. It especially works well for 1-pint and 1-quart pot production. With loads of long-lasting blooms and a hint of fragrance, ‘Pink Kisses’ makes a great gift plant and is perfect for placing on a sunny windowsill.
Growing Tips From Kyle Peterson, Fessler Nursery
Kyle Peterson, Production Manager at Fessler Nursery, grew Dianthus ‘Pink Kisses’ on a trial basis and says he was pleased with its performance. It had a nice, full growth habit and excellent blooming power. Uniformity across the crop was consistent, which gave growers a solid selection to work with. This year the nursery has more ‘Pink Kisses’ in production, and they continue to perform well.
Peterson’s Recommendations for Growing Dianthus ‘Pink Kisses’ Successfully
Fertilizer: A balanced fertilizer at a rate of 150 to 200 ppm alternated with clear water seems to work well as a feed program.
Propagation: “We have found that putting Remay cloth over the trays helps maintain higher humidity levels and increases success once the cuttings are stuck,” Peterson says.
Plant Growth Regulators (PGRS): PGRs were not necessary when growing the plants cold.
Lighting: A high-light greenhouse is great, but no supplemental lighting is needed.
Pinching: Pinch one time at transplant, and that produces a well-branched, full plant.
Growing Media: Use a bark-based mix with plenty of drainage, which is important due to the dryer growing conditions that ‘Pink Kisses’ prefers.
Irrigation: “This really is the key to success with dianthus,” Peterson says. “Be light-handed with irrigation, and you’ll be much more pleased with your results. Winter growing in northern latitudes can be a challenge. When we water, it’s done first thing in the morning so the foliage has as much time as possible to dry off.”
Planting/Scheduling: Due to their partiality for being grown cold and dry, dianthus have a longer crop time. With their daylength neutrality, however, they can be scheduled for even the darkest winter months. Crop time can vary with different conditions, but we allow about 10 to 12 weeks for a finished 4-inch crop.
Pests: The main pest pressure for dianthus is thrips. A good practice for managing them is the regular release of Cucumeris predatory mites. It is easy to implement the program, which provides great control.
Disease: “The main disease pressure we experienced with dianthus is Fusarium,” Peterson says. “While relevant fungicides can be used for control, the best method we have found is prevention, which is accomplished by controlling our water management practices.”
Production Quick Facts From Selecta:
Propagation: Choose a well-drained medium with an EC of 0.75 to 0.80 mmhos and a pH of 5.8 to 6.2.
Transplanting: Transplant rooted cuttings at or slightly above the soil line of the final container. In some situations, especially outdoor overwinter production, a preventative fungicidal soil drench may be appropriate.
Growing Media: A pH of 5.8 to 6.2 is optimal.
Temperature: Nights at 33°F to 50°F; days at 59°F to 76°F; avoid temperatures above 80°F.
Light: ‘Pink Kisses’ will perform best under moderate to high light levels of 5,000 to 9,000 footcandles (50,000 to 90,000 Lux).
Fertilizer: Use a balanced, high-nitrate fertilizer at a rate of 200 to 250 ppm Nitrogen.
Watering: Allow the media to dry regularly between watering and never be saturated. However, do not allow plants to wilt at any time.
Pinching: ‘Pink Kisses’ can be pinched once, as soon as it is well rooted, to maximize branching and create a full plant covered in flowers. Plants can be sheared back to promote branching and schedule flowering.