With forecast temperatures in the 70s for the foreseeable future, winter seems to be about over in My Florida Backyard, and we're starting to make plans for spring in the garden. As we walked the yard this weekend looking for plants that need to be replaced, we couldn't help but admire those that not only survived the winter, but actually thrived, like these dianthus.
Many of today's popular dianthus species trace their heritage back to the mountains of southern Europe, so it's no surprise that they're a cold-hardy genus. Here in Florida, they generally survive frosts and even a hard freeze or two, and just keep blooming. Although some gardening sites say they are not suitable for warmer climates, our dianthus continue to flower well right through the summer, so perhaps newer hybrids and varieties are better suited to heat as well as cooler temperatures.
Dianthus has a variety of common names, including Sweet William and Pinks. While most dianthus are in fact pink in color, the common name "pinks" actually comes from the distinctive fringed edge of the flower petals. As far back as the 1300s, to "pink" something meant to decorate it with a frilled or fringed edge (think pinking shears). Its been speculated that the color pink actually takes its name from the flower.
Pinks are a biennial, so if you start them from seed you'll have to wait two years for them to bloom. However, they're readily available at all nurseries in a variety of patterns and hues, and once planted, they continue to bloom and thrive for years. Though not a native, this low-maintenance plant is an easy pop of color any Florida gardener can appreciate, as we do in My Florida Backyard.