There's perhaps no other flower that is so divided in the opinion of than the carnation. This ruffly flower is a common sight at your local grocery store and has been likened to words like "cheap" and "grocery store flower" for this reason.
However, while some may deeply oppose the usage of carnations in arrangements, there are also those who are huge fans, and for good reason! A carnation can last an average of 14 to 21 days so long as you keep up with their care. Read on for tips on how to care for cut carnations and why you should give them a second chance.
Human usage of carnations dates back to ancient times with the Greeks and Romans who used carnations in sacred ceremonies and for fashion. Both the Greeks and Romans attributed carnations to their gods which is why they are also referred to as the "flower of the gods". Romans, for example, referred to carnations as "Jupiter's flower". Their unique beauty made them a favorite in these ancient times as they were revered, a far cry from the modern "cheap flower" take.
Carnation's history is not only closely associated with ancient mythology, but also has its ties to Christianity. According to the legend, when Mary witnessed the cruelty imposed on her son, Jesus, she wept tears that fell to the earth where they transformed into carnations. Mention of this can be seen in Da Vinci's painting, Madonna of the Carnation, where baby Jesus eagerly reaches towards the red carnation held in Mary's hand. Today, red carnations symbolize a mother's undying love making them a perfect flower for Mother's Day.
Check out these blush mini carnations!
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Speaking of Mother's Day flowers, did you know that carnations are the official flower of this holiday? They were declared the official flower at the holiday's origin when its creator, Anna Jarvis, began the annual tradition. She is said to have chosen carnations because they had been her mother's favorite flower and she sought a holiday dedicated to the enduring love and hard work done by mothers such as her own. Since then gifting flowers on Mother's Day has been a staple of the holiday, so why not consider choosing carnations for your Mother's Day flowers?
I must admit that before becoming fully immersed in the flower industry I never gave carnations a second look. Like most, I had grown up seeing these flowers in grocery stores and had become unconsciously biased towards them not even realizing it until years later. Then I began to see all the stunning shades of carnations that I had never seen before from antique to deep purple and so many more.
Can you believe those ruffly flowers are carnations?!
If you're still not convinced then consider this, carnations are some of the most long-lasting flowers that will reward you with more time than most. With proper care, you can expect your carnations to last you on average 14 days, but with a bit of luck, their cut lifespan can reach 21 days, maybe more!
Here are some tips on how to get the most life out of your cut carnations:
1. Once you've brought your bundle of carnations home, be sure to give them a fresh cut. This is because cut stems will seal themselves making it difficult for the flowers to properly drink, so to counter this you will want to cut them at a 45-degree angle not straight across. The angle is critical because it will create a larger surface area where the flower will drink through. Ideally, you want to trim your stems once a week to ensure proper hydration which is key.
2. Be sure to remove any leaves from the stems, especially any that will be submerged. This will prevent bacteria from growing which is an easy way to kill any cut flower. To clear the stem of greenery, you can use your thumb and index finger to create a downward swiping motion.
3. You'll want to use room temperature water that is preferably not from the faucet since hard water contains a lot of minerals that may age your flowers quicker. Though this sometimes can't be avoided, I recommend if you can to use filtered drinking water. You'll also want to change the water at least every other day otherwise bacteria may build up.
4. Keep your flower away from ripening fruit and direct sun. It's a no-brainer that direct sun on any flower will cause the flower to wilt and carnations, though hardy, are not immune to this. Surprisingly, ripening fruit will cause your flowers to fast forward in age since they release ethylene gas, a natural gas, as they ripen. So keep your carnations away from these two things and you should be able to enjoy them for a long time.
My final word for the defense of carnations is that sometimes all you need to do is give them a second look. After all, babies breath which used to be the epitome of a "cheap flower" has soared into popularity thanks to some paint and Pinterest. Whose to say that carnations won't become a favorite among wedding trends for the next year?
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