Sweet smelling carnations have had a long and colorful history beyond the prom. For the past two thousand years, they have been cultivated and used in celebrations from Greek ceremonial crowns, to honoring parents and loved one, to funerals. Each color has its own symbolism, but all carnations are known as one of the longest lasting and most enduring flowers.
Carnations represent love, fascination, distinction, gratitude, and admiration, except in France, where carnations are a symbol of misfortune and bad luck, with purple carnations being the traditional flower of funerals. Each color has its own special meaning. Light red symbolizes admiration, while dark red represents deep love and affection. White is pure love and good luck. Red and white stripes symbolize regret for a love that can’t be shared. Pink represents a mother’s undying love, while green stands for St. Patricks Day and was used in the early 20th century as a symbol of homosexuality.
White and red carnations are the traditional flowers of Mother’s Day in Canada and the United States. In 1907, Anna Jarvis started this tradition by choosing the white carnation to honor the purity of a mother’s love. Over time, this evolved to become wearing a red carnation if your mother is alive, and a white if she has passed away.
Korea also uses carnations to honor both parents. On Parents Day (May 8), you’ll see many people wearing a corsage composed of coronations over their hearts. They also use carnations to honor teachers on May 15.
Carnations are adopted around the world for symbols of countries and organizations. Carnations are the national flower of Spain. The red carnation is the state flower of Ohio. Japan’s imperial throne is known as the carnation throne.
If you wish to grow carnations, plant them in full sun. The best soil is well drained and has a pH that’s neutral to slightly alkaline. Some popular varieties are ‘Helen’, ‘Laced Romeo’, and ‘Red Rocket’.