Come mid-May, this diminutive gem explodes with very little effort from me. The perfect plant for busy lifestyles! I hate fussy. And Bath’s Pink Dianthus (Dianthus gratianopolitanus) is anything but. Several years ago I planted three small containers along the edge of my flagstone path that leads up to our patio. Over the years, it’s grown into an impressive three-foot clump of blue-tinged foliage covered with the daintiest little flowers. A clove-like scent fills the air and my teenage daughter throws open her window when the plant is in full bloom. For two weeks, the fragrance perfumes her room and the kitchen since the windows are located just above the planting.
When flowering ends, a quick snip with scissors to remove spent blooms and you’re left with a tidy blue/green mat that will continue to bloom sporadically, although not as profusely as the first spring flush, through fall. I use Bath’s Pink to soften the edges along the flagstone path that leads to our patio. It’s a full sun spot with good drainage (despite a rain barrel that sometimes overflows nearby). The rabbits never touch it and the red admiral butterflies can’t get enough of it.
History of Bath’s Pink
Do you ever look at paint chips or nail polish colors and wonder how they get their names. Yeah, me too. Except I do it with plants. It’s a side effect of hort addiction. So I assumed Bath’s Pink originated in Bath, England. Wrong. It was actually discovered by landscape designer Jane Bath of Stone Mountain, GA, who watched this determined little plant thrive under inhospitable conditions. She cut a sample of it and brought it to growers in Lexington, GA, who trialed it and ultimately named the plant after her. Pretty cool. That explains the “Bath’s” part of the name. The “Pink” isn’t meant to describe the flower color, but the appearance of the petals. The frilly edge looks as though it’s been pinked. As in pinking shears. These special scissors leave a zigzag pattern that not only adds a decorative edge to seams and fabric edges but also help prevent fraying.
Bath’s Pink loves full sun and well draining soil. At just 8 inches tall, it’s perfect for the front of the border, or tucked in rock gardens and cottage gardens throughout USDA Hardiness Zones 3 – 9. It can take heat and humidity but has little patience for soggy sites. I never water it, except in the weeks following the initial planting and it’s held its own. In warmer climates, the foliage will remain blue/green throughout the winter. And in the event that your dog is a delicate flower, determined to avoid snow in her paws, Bath’s Pink can even take a tinkle or two!
What’s your favorite low maintenance plant?