Dianthus fruticosus (Shrubby Pink)

Dianthus fruticosus, also known as shrubby pink is an evergreen subshrub with a thick trunk and dense woody branches covered with fleshy green leaves. It forms a compact cushion shape.

During early summer, soft pink fringed flowers emerge gently from the thick foliage, adding a delicate touch.

Dianthus fruticosus is a moderately hardy but very drought-tolerant plant native to the Mediterranean Basin, specifically to Greece.

Dianthus fruticosus plant (shrubby Pink)


Quick Overview

TYPE

HEIGHT & WIDTH

Dianthus fruticosus height and width

BLOOM TIME

Dianthus fruticosus bloom time

SUNLIGHT

full sun

HARDINESS

hardiness (-8ºC / 17º F)

DROUGHT TOLERANCE

drought tolerance aprox 5 months

ORIGIN

Shrubby Pink Scientific name

  • Botanical name: Dianthus fruticosus  (dee-AN-thus froo-ti-KOH-sus)
  • Family:  Caryophyllaceae (KAR-ee-oh-fil-AY-see-ee)
  • Common name:  Shrubby Pink
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”.
fruticosus Latin word meaning shrubby or bushy.

How to identify Dianthus fruticosus

Dianthus fruticosus plant (shrubby Pink)

Plant

Dianthus fruticosus is an evergreen multistemmed subshrub that forms a compact cushion. It has a thick trunk and woody branches looking like a miniature tree.

It is densely branched and covered with fleshy green fleshy leaves and topped with delicate pink flowers.

This plant is a chasmophyte, which means it grows on rock crevices. 

The plant has an average height of 30 to 50 cm (1 to 1.3 ft), 50cm (1.6 ft) with flower, and a width of 30 to 40 cm (1 to 1.3 ft)

Dianthus fruticosus stem (shrubby Pink)

Stem

The stems are woody at the base providing stability to the plant. 

Opposite narrow leaves emerge from the expanded nodes along the stems. Each set of leaves is rotated 90ºc to the neighbouring node.

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

Dianthus fruticosus leaf (shrubby Pink)

Leaf

The leaves are thick, fleshy and hairless. They have a green colour which can seem blue-green due to the waxy coating.

They are elliptical, being larger towards the tip and tapering at the base, where they attach directly to the stem (the leaves have no stalk i.e. sessile)

The leaf is, on average, 25 to 35 mm (0.9 to 1.3 in) long and 2 to 4 mm wide.

Dianthus fruticosus flower (shrubby Pink)

Flower

The flowers are usually bright pink with dark pink veins and are numerous, arranged in racemes. The shade of pink can vary from pale pink to bright pink depending on the subspecies.

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 green-brown sepals that form the calyx are lanceolate with a pointed tip.

At the base of the calyx are 8 to 10 pale yellow bracts with an ovate shape, about ⅓ of the size of the calyx.

The flowers bloom at the beginning of summer and continue until early autumn.

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Dianthus fruticosus Habitat

Shrubby Pink, is native to the Greek Islands of the Mediterranean Basin. 

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

It is often seen growing in rocky slopes, cliffs, or crevices where it can take advantage of well-draining soil with moderate moisture levels.

It grows at low altitudes up to 400 m (1300 ft).

Dianthus fruticosus Usage

Ornamental

Dianthus fruticosus is used as an ornamental plant. Its charming, bright pink flowers and compact cushion habit make appealing for gardens.

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 and its compact cushion form make it a natural fit for rock gardens or other alpine-style planting areas.
  2. 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.
  3. Seaside gardens: It is resistant to salt sprays making it a good choice for gardens by the sea.

Biodiversity

The flowers of Dianthus fruticosus 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 fruticosus

Cold exposure

This plant is not very hardy and can only tolerate temperatures down to -8ºC (17ºF), 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 fruticosus 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. It dislikes soggy soil, which makes it more exposed to fungal diseases that cause root rot. So avoid planting it in places where moisture is stagnant.

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

Watering

Shrubby  Pink is very drought tolerant and can go for some without water once it is established (about 5 months of drought if the temperature is not too hot). 

Once established, it’s best not to water it in the summer to prevent creating hot and humid conditions that could encourage fungal infections. 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. 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 fruticosus 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 will allow 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 the flowering period, 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-

Salt tolerance

Dianthus fruticosus is native to the Greek Islands so it can be seen in coastal areas where it is resistant to salt sprays from the sea.

When to plant Dianthus fruticosus

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 place with moderate weather, it’s best to plant in the autumn season. This way, the plant can grow its roots during the cooler months before the hot summer arrives. But if you have really cold winters, it’s better to wait until spring when there’s no more frost, and the soil is warmer. That way, the plant can have a better chance to grow well and be healthy.

How to propagate Dianthus fruticosus

The best way to propagate Anatolian Pink is from seed or stem cuttings 

Stem cuttings: take softwood cuttings in spring before it starts blooming 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 medium. Keep the medium 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.

A good online source for plant propagation techniques can be found in the books below.

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RHS Propagation bookRHS Propagation book

Creative Propagation book

Sources

Sources of information used for this article

Internet

Article from Jardin Sec

Article from Kew

Article from Tilo Botanica

Article from Cretan Flora

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