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Perennials > Dianthus > Dianthus caryophyllus > Dianthus caryophyllus 'Black King'

Dianthus caryophyllus

'Black King'

Grenadin Black King Carnation

Origin:  Dianthus translating to "flower of the gods"
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Black King is a beautiful carnation with dark velvet-like flowers and a strong dense base. It usually blooms in the late summer, showing off it's either dark, rich purple or velvety red colours that can at times appear black. A spicy, clove like smell makes up for its darker colours in attracting many types of pollinators including bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. Its distinct fragrance gives warning to its potential toxicity as it is resistant to deer, groundhogs and even said to be toxic to macropods. It grows well in well-draining sandy loam soils, preferring an alkaline-neutral soil, but still serving well in acidic if the porosity is ideal. Full sun for at least 6 hours a day provides the best growth for this carnation.

Michael Pascoe, NDP., ODH., CLT., MSc. (Plant Conservation)


'Black King'
Tradmarked Name
USDA Hardiness Zone
6 - 9
Canadian Hardiness Zone
8 - 10
RHS Hardiness Zone
Temperature (°C)
Temperature (°F)
25 - 40 cm
30 - 60 cm
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
The king of blacks is a bushy growing medium sized flower with the darkest reddish purple flowers that resemble purple velvet and have a spicy, clove like smell. The stems grow thick and strong with a blue-grey grass-like foliage.
Commonly grown as an accent plant for not only its striking appearance but also its smell and ability to attract pollinators. Perfect for bedding, gardens contrast well with this plant because of its striking black velvet look, it is the darkest of any of the Dianthus. It bears a spicy smell making it a perfect flower to be cut and arranged as a gift. Bees and Butterflies are heavily attracted to it making it a great plant to have amongst other pollinating plants. Commonly used as a bedding or bordering plant, potted cutting and even found on rock walls/gardens.
Prefers a sandy or loam type soil as long as it is well draining and said to put up with normal, alkaline or acidic ph levels. Average watering serves this plant best but be sure not to overwater.
ID Characteristic
This rather dense Dianthus gives bloom midsummer to a striking black velvet flower bearing a spicy smell and silver-grey grass-like foliage.
The king of blacks is susceptible to black spot, damping-off, powdery mildew, root rot and spider mites. Overwatering and getting the foliage wet on sunny days can lead to several of these, but ultimately contamination from foreign objects can bear the more devastating results. Resilient to larger animals like Deer and Groundhogs, but toxic to Macropods (tree kangaroos).
Horticultural origin.
Leaf Description
These lanceolate evergreen leaves grow dark green into entire margins forming a simple, decussate structure. Its leaf surface is also glabrous and bears a resemblance to simple grass.
Flower Description
Although the purple velvet colour is often that which is sot after, the King of blacks can blossom into a deep burgundy or so dark it seems black. Blossoming takes place in late summer. Its 5-petals are complete, perfect and have a striking crinkled stellate shape. It attracts butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.
Colour Description
Its flowers blossom either a rich burgundy or a velvety purple at times looking black. Foliage has a cool blue-grey shade of green that becomes a healthy dark green in full sun.
Texture Description
Soft serrated petals. Smooth leaves.
Propagation can be accomplished several ways. The seed can be germinated in a damp piece of paper towel and then be directly sown outdoors after last frost or indoors before last frost. Once the plant can handle 8 cm pots it should be transplanted and gradually acclimatized with cooler weather to prepare it for the outdoors. Once danger of frost is avoidable, plant outside in sandy or loam soil allowing 30 cm spacing. Simple layering (the bending of the plant stem until the middle is touching the ground, then held with a u-shaped pin) can be accomplished once the plant has developed.
Ethnobotanical Uses (Disclaimer)
Carnations like the Dianthus caryophyllus have been dried and brewed into nerve calming teas in ancient China (221 BC). No evidence of this particular cultivar being dried and brewed is evident and given its toxicity to macropods should perhaps be avoided as it may induce vomiting if ingested.
"Macropod Husbandry, Healthcare and Medicinals--Volumes One and Two." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2016. "Poisonous Plants." AccessScience (n.d.): n. pag. Web.