Would carnations survive Toronto winter? Thank you.
The answer is a definite yes: carnations, of the genus Dianthus, are rated for zones 3-8, and Toronto is 5.5. You may find several varieties (of over 300 species, as well as hundreds of hybrids) both in nurseries and corner markets, including D.gratianopolitanus a ‘perennial’ favourite known for its captivating spicy scent, and petals of varying shades of pink — hence the common name “pinks”. An example of a gorgeous hybrid is D. chinensis x barbatus (photo) — you’ll notice the handsome Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta rubria), happily feeding on the delicate flowers. So your new carnations will also become a major attraction for butterflies and bees, an important bonus to both your garden, and the well-being of our valuable pollinators.
Dianthus require full sun, and will not only tolerate but require alkaline conditions. Think of a rock garden, or a similar stony/limestone environment, and this is where you can count on your drought tolerant carnations to thrive. Attached herein is some good reading for yourself and readers: a Toronto Master Gardener guide on growing hardy perennials, which includes carnations:
Enjoy shopping for, planting and nurturing your carnations !