Dianthus ‘Firewitch’

Although their clove-like scent makes me think of past toothaches (thanks clove oil) the “Cheddar Pinks” group of the dianthus family offers several excellent perennials for the garden. Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Feuerhexe’ or ‘Firewitch’ was the Perennial Plant Association’s Plant of the Year back in 2006 for good reason. In May it is covered with rosy-magenta blooms sitting atop wiry stems, forming a stunning mound of brilliant colour in the garden.

Nuts and Bolts
Like most cheddar pinks ‘Firewitch’ is very low-growing, perhaps six inches tall by a foot wide. A sunny location is a must, as is well-drained soil. Make sure the location is not subject to wet soils when the snow melts in spring. This group of dianthus tolerates heat and drought better than most. Blooms appear in May and June. Lightly shear back the foliage after blooming to refresh the plant, and promote secondary flowering throughout the summer, which it does more readily than other varieties in the group. The foliage is an attractive blue-green with a hint of grey. Hardy to -40 deg. C.

Plant it with…
‘Firewitch’ is an ideal plant for sunny slopes, amongst rocks or on top of rock walls. Locating it along a sidewalk allows you to catch the fragrance of the blooms each time you walk by. Combine it with other low-growing perennials such as sedum, thyme, aubretia, creeping phlox and many others to create a kaleidoscope of colourful bloom and foliage on a border edge or rock garden.

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