The birthday flower for January is the fragrant carnation, also known as dianthus, sweet william, pink, and gillyflower. Available in a rainbow of colors and blossom sizes, carnations are known for their dainty ruffled petals and a sweet fragrance reminiscent of cloves or cinnamon. But don’t let their delicate appearance fool you. Carnations are also easy to grow, very hearty, and among the longest-lasting cut flowers around.

Carnations in History

While no one knows for sure, most floral experts believe that carnations are native to the Mediterranean basin. Others believe they first appeared in the Far East. We do know that carnations have been cultivated (and loved) for over 2,000 years.

The name carnation can be traced back to “coronation” or “corone” (flower garland), because it was one of the flowers used in ceremonial crowns worn by the ancient Greeks. Other experts think the name derived from either the Greek word “carnis” (flesh), referring to the original color of the flower, or “incarnacyon” (incarnation), a religious reference to the incarnation of God made flesh. The Latin name for carnation, dianthus, means “divine flower.” white

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