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Annuals/"bare root" carnations


Hello ~

I have about 2 dozen "bare root" carnations that I would like to plant, but I have no idea how to put them in the ground, even after searching the internet.
The carnations are long, bare roots. Do I plant them sideways? I can't really tell which is the root and which is the top of the plant. How deep should the roots be planted? I want to put them in the ground, not a container.  

Thanks so much for any help you can offer.

I live in San Diego. I have "prepped" the soil with some bags of potting soil since our regular dirt is in pretty hard and alkaline.

Thanks ~ Richard

Are you planting these are garden plants or as future cut flowers?  Is there no slightly green part where all the roots come together? There should be a place where the roots all come together - this is the "crown" of the plant and should be pointed up and the roots going down. If you can see this area then dig a wide hole for each plant then make a "cone" of soil in the center (think volcano!) that stops just below the surface of the soil. Drape the roots over this cone with the crown at the top so that it gets covered with only an inch of soil but the rest of the roots are deeper. Fill with soil and gently pat it down. Do not press the soil around the roots too firmly - when you water it will settle everything well.

If you can't tell at all, what I'd do is make a trench (or several trenches) about three inches deep and lay them sideways in this trench. Keep each set of roots from touching the others so that you'll be able to move the plants in the future if needed.

After you lay the roots out in these fill them with soil and gently pat the soil down - do not press tightly. Water the area well to settle the soil. Next year you can move these plants around if you want to design the garden differently at that point.

I hope this helps,


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C.L. Fornari


Annuals suggested for specific situations (sun, shade, windowboxes etc) New or unusual annuals are a particular interest of mine, and I grow many of these from seed. I am happy to help problem solve, answer questions about maintenance, and guide you to sources of unusual plants.


I am a garden writer/speaker/consultant and host of a weekly gardening radio program in the Northeast. I have been gardening all my life for my own pleasure, and started as a professional gardener and garden communicator 15 years ago. I work part-time at a garden center, selling and tending shrubs/trees/annuals/perennials...and doing some propagation and design work. I often think that all these professional activities serve to put a somewhat legitimate framework around a serious case of plant-lust.

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