From March 13-17, Dianthus Week will be taking place in Colombia again. During this event, nine international breeders will showcase their new and existing varieties and trends of this species at different locations in Bogotá. Asocolflores, the Colombian Association of Flower Exporters, is supporting this event, and in this article, Augusto Solano explains how the Dianthus entered Colombia and how breeding evolved.
“The Renaissance was a period in which various arts such as literature, architecture, sculpture, and painting bloomed with great compositional, aesthetic, and thematic liberty, and during which there was a vast development of scientific knowledge. As in the Renaissance, during the last ten years, thanks to Colombian carnations and hand in hand with science, floriculture has seen a significant transformation of colors, textures, and shapes”, explains Solano.
“Although this flower has accompanied the human population throughout its history, from the ancient Roman Empire to the present days, and has been the inspiration of countless legends, becoming an icon of many religious, artistic, political, and cultural events, today in Colombia it has spectacular variations that make it one of the most desired flowers in different markets.”
Due to the characteristic that carnations have of adapting to the breeding process, new varieties are permanently produced. “Close to seven centuries have gone by since 1442, when René d’Anjou −Duke of Anjou and Count of Provence− made the first serious experiments in this field. Today, the Colombian carnation imposes a revolution of color amongst many other ornamental flowers.”
The original birthplace of carnations is located on the Mediterranean coast. “This flower was classified for the first time in Ancient Greece by Theophrastus −the father of botany− in honor of Zeus, under the name Dianthus (flower of the gods). The history of the varieties obtained from this flower is rather enthralling. Initially, they were classified as bastard flowers, but as time went by, they became known when William Shakespeare immortalized them in his play “The Winter’s Tale”:
“Of trembling winter, the fairest flowers o’ the season, are our carnations and streak’d gillyvors, which some call nature’s bastards.”
Hybridization in the search for the most beautiful carnations spread all over Europe during the XVI century, giving way to an aspirational market for the aristocracy of the Western world. Years later, in 1852, the United States imported the first carnations for commercial purposes. Perpetua variety seedlings were sent from Lyon (France) to Long Island, becoming the mother plants for American growers.”
This is how carnation breeding arrived in North America, giving rise to a great many premium quality varieties, Solano continues. “David Cheever, who, in 1964, was a University of Colorado graduate student, said back then that “the Bogotá Savanna –in Colombia− has ideal conditions for extensive, top quality carnation crops which may be grown all year round due to the excellent weather conditions that prevail in the area.” Edgar Wells and Miguel de Germán-Ribón were interested in Cheever’s research on Colombia. They met with him, and then they started the first carnation plantations in the country, as well as the export of Colombian flowers in general. To date, Colombia is the second flower exporting country and the first carnation exporter worldwide.”
In addition, approximately 20 years ago, Colombia improved cut-flower transportation conditions and started its own local hybridization process to obtain carnation varieties using an innovative process that has given rise, in the last decade, to flowers with a whole new palette of colors and an explosion of unrivaled tones that last longer in a flower vase.
‘Currently, the Colombian hybridization of carnations continues to evolve, innovating with the Dianthus genre, of which there are over 400 species around the world; many of them −wild and native− are suitable for breeding and developing new and amazing types of carnations, some already found in the market.”
Between January and November 2022, around US$255 million in carnations were exported to different locations around the world. “This figure is represented in over 46 thousand tons and around 1,550 million stems, consolidating carnations as the second most exported cut-flower species produced in Colombia. This figure represents a growth of 13% in value and 16% in volume, when compared with the period January to November 2021.”
Colombia has 8,900 hectares planted in flowers for export, “12% of which are carnations. The main export market for carnations is the United States with a share of 43%, followed by Japan with 16%, Holland with 11%, and Poland and Spain with 6% and 5%, respectively.”
An impression of Dianthus week 2022
“Thus, the texture, color, and shapes of carnations, plus the impressive results obtained by the Colombian breeders creating new varieties, constitute the cornerstone of the Dianthus Week Colombia 2023, which will take place between March 13 and 17, in Bogotá, with the support of Asocolflores, the Colombian Association of Flower Exporters.”
For the second time around, this live event will bring together producers, breeders, and buyers from Colombia, Korea, the United States, Japan, the Netherlands, and others, so that through a live experience, participants can become acquainted first-hand with the new varieties by visiting the top breeder farms that produce the most beautiful and best quality carnations around the world.
The breeders that organize this prominent event are:
- Ball (USA)
- Breier Cross (Israel)
- Danziger (Israel)
- Dümmen Orange (Holland)
- Hilverda Kooij (Holland)
- Propagar Plantas (Colombia)
- Santamaría (Italy)
- SB Talee (Colombia)
- Selecta (Germany)
For more information: