Dianthus deltoides

The maiden pink, Dianthus deltoides, is an alpine plant, native of the UK. Increasingly rare, it is found in dry, chalky or rocky locations, sometimes growing in short grass. The typical flower colour is pink, but may also be white or white with spots.

It grows in clumps from a base of dense wiry evergreen stems. The leaves are tiny, pointed and held close to the stems. An easy garden plant with wild credentials; Several named garden selections have been made, including white, pink and red varieties.

The flowers of maiden pink are held six to eight inches above the plant on fine wiry stems. In late May or early June they produce hundreds of flowers over a period of several weeks well into July. Sporadic flowers then appear on and off for the rest of the summer. At its height, the sheer number of flowers can be amazing, and their butterfly-like petals create a light airy effect.

In the garden dianthus deltoides is easy to grow given an open sunny site with poor soils.Overly improved, waterlogged or fertile soils are its nemesis. Mine grow on a green-roof with just three inches of nutrient-poor soil. This appears to suit them as they seed around freely, popping up among other plants in a non-destructive way.

Dianthus deltoides ‘Flashing Light’

8in (20 cm)
18in (45 cm)
full sun
free-drained soil
pollinator friendly
Avoid fertile or waterlogged soil

Dianthus comes from the Greek, ‘Dios’ (deity) and ‘anthos’ (flower) meaning God’s Flower. Deltoides comes from ‘delta’, meaning, triangle-like: a reference to the petal shape, which you can see clearly in this photo.

► This is a self-sown seedling of Dianthus ‘Flashing Light’, growing on my green-roof. Notice how each stem carries many buds. Here it rises from a mat of purple flowered creeping thyme (thymus serphyllum). The yellow succulent is sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’.


D. deltoides ‘Albus’
– Pure white petals

D. deltoides ‘Brilliant’
– Fuschia red flowers

D. deltoides ‘Flashing light’
– Red flowers

D. deltoides ‘Maiden Pink Arctic Fire’
– White with candy pink centres

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