Dianthus chinensis

Common Name: pink 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Native Range: China
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to June
Bloom Description: White, pink, red and bicolor
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Clay Soil, Dry Soil


China pinks are biennials or short-lived perennials that are primarily grown as annuals in the St. Louis area. They are sometime described as cool weather annuals because they thrive in cool summers, but dislike the hot and humid summers typical of the St. Louis climate. They are best grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun, but appreciate some afternoon shade in hot summer weather. Start seed indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date. Set out seedlings and purchased plants 1-2 weeks before last frost date. Plantings may burn out in hot St. Louis summers or may melt out in the center when soils are not well-drained. Deadhead spent flowers to prolong bloom. When flowering declines, plants may be sheared to promote additional bloom.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Dianthus chinensis, commonly called China pinks, grows to as much as 30" tall and features pink to lilac flowers with fringed petals and a purple eye. Most cultivars available in commerce today are bushy compact plants that typically grow in mounds or clumps to 6-12" tall and as wide and feature a longer flowering period and a much greater range of flower colors, including many different shades of white, pink and red with interesting bicolor combinations thereof. Flowers appear in 10-15 flowered clusters in summer. Narrow, lance-shaped stem leaves (to 3" long). Hybrids of D. chinensis and D. barbatus generally provide better flowering for the St. Louis climate.

Genus name comes from the Greek words dios meaning divine and anthos meaning flower.

Specific epithet means of China.


Susceptible to crown rot and rust, particularly in poorly-drained soils. Watch for snails and slugs. These are high maintenance plants that need regular shearing to force additional bloom.


Beds and borders. Edgings. Group or mass near doors or walkways. Containers.