Dianthus corsicus (Corsican Pink)

Dianthus corsicus, also known as Corsican Pink or Corsican Carnation is a small evergreen perennial, with blue-green foliage that forms a dense grassy cushion shape.

In spring, a multitude of delicate, dark pink flowers with a spicy fragrance, emerge on wiry stems that rise gracefully from a cushion of lush foliage.

As the name suggests, the species is native to the island of Corsica, which is located in the Mediterranean Sea and is part of France.

Dianthus corsicus plant (Corsican Pink, Corsican Carnation)


Quick Overview

TYPE

HEIGHT & WIDTH

Dianthus corsicus height and width

BLOOM TIME

Dianthus corsicus bloom time

SUNLIGHT

full sun

HARDINESS

hardiness (-10ºC / 14º F)

DROUGHT TOLERANCE

drought tolerance aprox 3 months

ORIGIN

origin mediterranean basin

Corsican Pink Scientific name

  • Botanical name: Dianthus corsicus  (dee-AN-thus KOR-sik-us)
  • Family:  Caryophyllaceae (KAR-ee-oh-fil-AY-see-ee)
  • Common name: Corsican Pink, Corsican Carnation
NameMeaning
DianthusDerives from a combination of two Greek words “Dios” meaning divine and “anthos” meaning flower. So Dianthus means “Divine flower” or “flower of the gods”.
corsicusRefers to the plant’s origin in Corsica.

How to identify Dianthus corsicus

Dianthus corsicus plant (Corsican Pink, Corsican Carnation)

Plant

Dianthus corsicus is a small evergreen subshrub that forms a compact cushion.

It has dense foliage of blue-green leaves and is topped with small dark pink flowers that emerge from wiry stems.

The foliage has an average height of 5 to 10 cm (0.2 to 0.3 ft) and 15 cm (0.5 ft) when in flower. The width is around 30 cm (1 ft)

Dianthus corsicus stem (Corsican Pink, Corsican Carnation)

Stem

The stems are short, bluish-green and hairless.

Opposite narrow leaves are arranged in a rosette at the base of the stem.

The flowering stems are erect and wiry, bearing pink flowers at the tips.

Dianthus corsicus leaf (Corsican Pink, Corsican Carnation)

Leaf

The leaves are narrow, hairless and have a slightly glossy surface. The colour can vary from green to blue-green.

They are entire, linear and pointed at the tip.

Dianthus corsicus flower (Corsican Pink, Corsican Carnation)

Flower

The flowers are usually dark pink and are numerous.

Each flower is around 15 mm (0.6 in) in diameter and has 5 petals that are sharply toothed.

The flower is held inside a long calyx (20 to 26 mm) that is progressively tightened on the upper end. The sepals that form the calyx are lanceolate with a pointed tip.

At the base of the calyx are bracts with an ovate shape, about ⅓ of the size of the calyx.

The flowers of Dianthus corsicus are often fragrant, with a slightly spicy scent. They start blooming during mid-spring continuing until early summer.

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Dianthus corsicus Habitat

Corsican pink is well adapted to growing in rocky and mountainous regions. It can be found in various habitats, including rocky slopes, cliffs, and mountain meadows.

It is well-adapted to thrive in dry, arid conditions and can tolerate full sun exposure.

Dianthus corsicus Usage

Ornamental

Dianthus corsicus, known as Corsican pink, is a popular choice as an ornamental plant. Its lovely dark pink flowers, spicy fragrance and compact cushion growth habit make it highly desirable for gardens and landscaping projects.

It can be used in the following ways:

  1. Rock Gardens: It is particularly well-suited for rock gardens. Its ability to thrive in rocky and stony areas, along with its compact cushion form, makes it a natural fit for rock gardens or other alpine-style planting areas.
  2. Garden Borders and Edging: The compact and cushion-like growth habit of Corsican Pink makes it well-suited for garden borders and edging. It creates a neat and defined edge, adding a pop of colour and texture to flower beds and pathways.
  3. In containers: It can easily be grown in containers, making it a versatile choice for patio gardens, balconies, or other limited-space areas. Its low-maintenance nature and attractive flowers make it appealing to grow in pots.

Biodiversity

The nectar-rich flowers of Dianthus corsicus like other Dianthus plants, attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies.  This plant is a valuable addition to the biodiversity of your garden and is ideal for wildlife gardens.

How to care for Dianthus corsicus

Cold exposure

This plant is hardy and can only tolerate temperatures down to -10ºC (14ºF), as long as the soil is well drained. Cold and humid soil can be fatal to it. 

It will thrive best in a warm sheltered place. Add a thick layer of mulch to shelter the roots from low temperatures. Due to its cushion habit that hugs the ground, organic mulches may retain too much moisture and may cause the stems to rot, so it is best to use gravel mulch.

Sun exposure

Dianthus corsicus prefers full sun. It thrives in bright, direct sunlight and can tolerate intense heat. Providing it with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day is ideal for its growth and overall health.

In places with very hot climates or strong sunlight, it can be helpful to protect plants from the afternoon sun to prevent leaf damage. Providing partial shade during the hottest hours of the day can shield the plant from excessive heat and intense sunlight.

Soil

It prefers well-drained stony, or sandy soils. Don’t plant it in wet areas. It doesn’t like soggy soil, which can cause root rot and fungal diseases. 

It thrives best in soils that are slightly acidic to neutral in pH, but can also tolerate slightly alkaline soils.

Watering

Corsican Pink is moderately drought tolerant and can go for some without water once it is established (about 3 months of drought if the temperature is not too hot). 

Once established, it usually does not need watering. However, if there’s a long period without rain or very hot weather, you should give it some water. Just make sure to let the soil completely dry out before watering it again.

In the first year after planting, it’s important to water the young Dianthus every two to three weeks during the summer (or more frequently in sandy soil). This is because the plant is still growing its roots and needs extra water until it can reach deeper into the soil to get water on its own. This helps the plant stay healthy and hydrated as it gets established.

When watering it, you need to do it abundantly, giving the soil a generous soak so the water can penetrate deeply into the soil to allow its roots to grow deeply. Deep roots will allow the plant to survive longer periods of drought because the lower layers of the soil keep moist for more time.

To preserve the soil´s moisture, you should add mulch around the root area of the plant. Gravel is the best option for mulching. 

Pruning

Pruning Dianthus corsicus helps maintain its shape, encourages new growth, and promotes better flowering. 

  • Give it a cleaning prune in early spring. You should cut back the old, weak or overly crowded stems. This allows for better air circulation and light penetration, which will promote a healthy growth.
  • Give it a hard prune (always cutting above a healthy set of leaves)  immediately after flowering, typically early to mid-summer to help maintain its shape and encourage new growth.
  • Give it a light prune (deadheading) during the flowering season to promote continuous blooming.
  • Divide the clumps every few years to maintain its health and vigour

When to plant Dianthus corsicus

The best season to plant is typically spring or autumn, depending on your climate. It’s advisable to avoid planting during periods of extreme temperatures.

If you live in a location with moderate weather, you should preferably plant in autumn. By doing so, the plant gets a chance to develop its roots during the cooler months before the arrival of summer’s hot temperatures. However, if you encounter severe winters, it’s better to wait until spring when the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up, creating a more favourable environment for the plant to thrive.

How to propagate Dianthus corsicus

Corsican Pink can be propagated from seed, stem cuttings or division.

Stem cuttings: take softwood cuttings in spring before flowering or semi-hardwood cuttings, in late summer or early autumn.

  1. Cut the stem just below a leaf node.
  2. Remove the lower leaves, leaving a few pairs of upper leaves intact. 
  3. Plant in a well-draining soil. Keep the soil consistently moist and provide indirect light. 
  4. Once the roots have developed, transplant the rooted cuttings into individual containers and grow in cold frame during the first winter.

Seeds: sow seeds in autumn.

  1. Sow the seeds in a well-draining medium. Lightly press the seeds into the surface of the soil without covering them. 
  2. Maintain consistent moisture and provide indirect light. 
  3. Germination typically takes 2-4 weeks. Once the seedlings have grown a few sets of true leaves, transplant them into individual containers and grow in cold frame during the first winter.

Division: divide the plant in early spring or early autumn

  1. Carefully dig up the plant, ensuring you don’t damage the root system.
  2. Gently separate the plant into smaller clumps, ensuring each division has healthy roots and shoots.
  3. Replant the divisions into prepared holes or pots filled with well-draining soil.
  4. Water the divisions thoroughly and keep them adequately moist while they establish.

A good online source for plant propagation techniques can be found in RHS propagation article.

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Sources

Sources of information used for this article

Internet

Article from Jardin Sec

Article from Carex

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