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Best uses

Great for use in containers and rockeries. It can also look lovely around the edges of beds and borders.

Physical characteristics

A compact little evergreen perennial growing to 0.2m tall and 0.2m wide.

Flowers and foliage

Small single, pure white, fragrant flowers are produced from mid-summer to early autumn. Foliage is silvery grey, narrow and pointed.

Preferred site

Prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

Preparation for planting

With suitable preparation and care, perennials will grow and flower well year after year. They benefit from a weed-free, well-drained, alkaline soil rich in organic material. Prepare the planting site when soil is moist and easily worked after the first rains in autumn. Remove all perennial weeds and incorporate bark, compost or other organic material. On heavy soils raise the level of beds and borders with extra topsoil and coarse pumice or sand. Plant when the soil is moist and warm in autumn or early spring so that a good root system develops to support vigorous new growth. Planting too closely leads to spindly growth, poor flowering and eventual decline. In a border, plants should just touch each other to create a full effect without overcrowding.

Always choose healthy well-grown plants. Before planting ensure the root ball is saturated and remove the planter bag or pot with minimal root disturbance. Trim any broken roots and plant at the same level as in the container. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the root ball and firm in and water once planted. Make sure plants are watered well until established if planting in a drier period. Plant with some general slow-release fertiliser and then every spring apply an organic-based fertiliser such as blood and bone at a handful per square metre as new growth begins. Mulch with bark or similar material in spring to conserve moisture. Control slugs and snails to prevent damage to tender young shoots.

Maintenance tips

Apply mulch annually to help suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Feed annually in spring with a balanced fertiliser such as blood and bone at a handful per square metre in spring as new growth begins. Deadhead after the flowers fade, this will prolong flowering and can be done with the aid of a pair of scissors or snips. Dianthus often need revitalising every couple of years. This is easily done by taking cuttings in spring. These can be easily rooted in a glass of water on your windowsill.

Pests and diseases

Slugs and snails may be a problem with soft new growth but rabbits will do the most damage and can chew off whole plants easily. Wet sites will make the plant susceptible to rot.

Location at Auckland Botanic Gardens