Dianthus: Annual or Perennial

davemichigan(zone 6a (SE Michigan))June 30, 2008

I have seen it listed as perennial and as hardy annual? What is it really?

The reason I am asking is because I am too late to grow it from seed this year. If it is annual, I will start early next year.

But if it is perennial, it seems like I can plant anytime now and let it develop some root systems. The folloages will die back in the winter but the plant should come back next spring. Correct?


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I'm in Zone 7 and it's a perennial for me. It could depend on the variety.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 6:05PM
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For me, in California (zone 9), it's a perennial. (But we don't get snow and only light frosts.) It's a short lived perennial--it usually dies off in about 3 or 4 years (as far as I know, it doesn't reseed itself).

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 6:36PM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

If well mulched, it's a perennail here as well...
I would sow seeds now.
Linda c

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 6:54PM
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These tend to spread on the ground here. I've noticed they take root all over the ground. It'd be easy to multiply these this way!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 7:26PM
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Dave, the Dianthus commonly called 'Sweet William' is an annual as are some others that are called 'Dianthus'. Many Dianthus are perennial. So you need to identify exactly which Dianthus you are wanting to plant. Do a google search for "Annual Dianthus" and then "Perennial Dianthus" Maybe that will help you clear things up.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 7:38PM
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njmomma(z6 NJ)

I was thinking that too - garden pinks (I think that's what they are called) are perennial dianthus. Most are perennials I think.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 8:50PM
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northerngirl_mi(Z5 MI)

The "annual" dianthus will often overwinter here in Michigan zone 5 if well established before winter, and planted in an area that has good drainage, especially if we have snow cover during the coldest weather.

As others have said, there are annual, biennial, and perennial varieties of dianthus. Even without knowing what you have, seed tends to be 'cheap' - I'm the impatient sort, so if it were me, I would start some (half) of the seeds immediately. If for some reason they don;t overwinter, you can start the rest next year. (Or check out the Winter Sowing forum).

Just be sure to store your leftover seed in a 'cool, dry' place. Best if just put in a jar with a lid.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 8:55PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

The dianthus varieties with stiff, blue- or gray-green leaves are perennial for me in Zone 6 mountains. Also, in the fall I buy green-leaved dianthus marked "annual" from Lowes clearance rack and they overwinter for me with no snow cover and temps down around 0 degrees. I have some that are 3 years old, so far.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 9:06AM
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The "annual" dianthus sold in a riot of colors and patterns at the big boxes are usually the D. Chinensis (check out the Google images for this type) - they'll come back for several years running here in zone 4, with or without snow cover. I'm not an expert, but the perennial types - Deptford Pinks and the common varieties like today's Firewitch, etc. last for years and years. I've had some unknown varieties since 1972.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 1:59PM
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davemichigan(zone 6a (SE Michigan))

Thanks all! I have a pack of Microchip Mix which is listed as perennial. Then I have Sweet William but the packet doesn't say whether it is annual or perennial. From your responses it sounds like it is an annual.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 4:14PM
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northerngirl_mi(Z5 MI)

Sweet William is usually a biennial. Plant it now for flowers next year.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 9:19PM
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One thing not mentioned is some plants are called annuals due to their use, rather than their actual life cycle.

By that I mean whether some gardeners will habitually rip up a plant to make way for the upcoming season's blooms rather then letting it keep growing as a non-flowering plant and bloom again next year.

This sort of thing is done in commercial establishments that have landscapers take care of their plant needs thus pansies will appear one day and disappear completely later on. It likely didn't die, but was dug up and thrown out to make way for the new plants even though pansies will live longer than that.

And of course stores would love it if we treated all plants as annuals and bought a new crop every year. To encourage this, many perennial plants are called annuals.

Also provides them some cover as many people are totally unfamiliar with the nature of perennials, and if it's labeled "annual" when it dies they think nothing of it, not realizing it should live for years.

Also climate is a reason.

Many plants can't survive above or below a certain temperature and will die completely including roots, BUT can live for part of a year in inappropriate climate when the weather doesn't exceed either fatal extreme.

Many perennials like this are sold as annuals when they cannot survive the winter of or the summer of a certain climate zone.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 4:02AM
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I have both "annual" Dianthus (deep pink) - the kind NOT with the still bluish leaves. This came back with no special treatment, and it was in a patio pot. This year it's in the ground and hopefully it will overwinter.

I also have Sweet William in it's second year and finally blooming ;). I am wondering if it will come back next year or reseed, we'll see.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 10:32AM
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