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Amazon dianthus rocks garden world
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Pinks or dianthus are among the most loved cool-season flowers. While they are described as cool-season flowers, varieties like the Amazon series perform in the cool season and for much of the summer, too, giving us combination possibilities we may never have considered.
Once in Mississippi State University trials, we partnered Amazon Rose Magic with Tidal Wave Silver petunia. Another year, we partnered Amazon Neon Cherry with Lucky Pot of Gold lantana. It doesn't sound right to say the words dianthus and lantana in the same sentence, but such is the new world of horticulture and gardening.
In addition to using the Amazon dianthus as a pansy partner or growing it with flowering kale, cabbage and cardoon, the Amazon may be one of the most striking flowers you can use as the thriller plant in mixed containers.
In case you are not familiar with the current recipe trend for mixed containers, it is “thriller, filler and spiller,” or “tall, small and fall.”
One container I saw featuring the Amazon dianthus in a wonderful early-summer design had Amazon Neon Purple as the center, or thriller, plant. This plant reaches out and grabs you with its beauty and interest.
The filler plant was Flambe Orange chrysocephalum. This tough-as-nails plant produces small, button-like, yellow flowers on striking, olive gray-green foliage. The foliage stands out against the dark green of the Amazon dianthus and the iridescent purple blooms.
The spiller plant cascading over the rim was Silver Falls dichondra. This plant has the ability to literally plummet out of containers, window boxes and baskets, creating a great vertical element. What's great about this partnership is that the silvery, almost shiny leaves of the dichondra really stand out, yet strengthen the vibrancy of the companion flowers' colors.
The Amazon dianthus easily reaches 24 inches tall on long stems that are perfect for cutting. It's not uncommon to see them hit 3 feet tall. Reports from across the country show a remarkable vase life of 12 to 14 days. This no doubt paved the way for Amazon Neon Duo to be selected as the 2004 Cut Flower of the Year by the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers.
The plant's growth habit and leaf size remind me of carnations, but the dianthus is thicker and much hardier. The Amazon has excellent cold resistance and is fairly heat tolerant. Whether grown as a short-lived perennial or as an annual, this dianthus should be mandatory for all gardens.
As with other dianthus varieties, your happiness with this plant revolves around bed preparation. Select a site in full sun and add 3 to 4 inches of organic matter, working it in 6 to 8 inches deep. This allows for good drainage during heavy rains. Space plants 10 to 14 inches apart and plant at the same depth they are growing in the container.
Deadhead to keep growth vigorous and blooms repeating and to maintain a tidy appearance. Feed with a light application of a slow-release fertilizer about every four to six weeks.
The Amazon series of dianthus features four colors: Neon Cherry, Neon Duo (a mix of Neon Cherry and Neon Purple), Neon Purple and Rose Magic. Rose Magic starts white and ages to pink, then deep rose, so you'll see all three colors at once.
So go to your garden center this weekend and look for the Amazon dianthus and other cool-season performers. They will be simply dazzling in your landscape.