The Story of the Carnation: Ohio’s State Flower
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The Story of the Carnation: Ohio’s State Flower

“I was a lonely teenage boncin’ buck
with a pink carnation and a pickup truck
but I knew I was out of luck
the day the music died”
– Don McLean, American Pie

Carnations: is there any flower more American? These sturdy darlings are perfect as cut flowers, in bouquets, and show off feminine, ruffled frills.  We love them because they’re unfussy, affordable, and look gorgeous on the kitchen table. They’re often used as corsages and boutonnieres, reminding us of those sweet high school dances.

With the botanical name Dianthus Caryophyllus, the carnation is the single most popular cut flower in Ohio. It loves full sun, well-drained soil, and enjoys a peak blooming season from April to August.

How the Carnation Became a Symbol of Ohio

According to Ohio History Central, the carnation has been Ohio’s state flower since 1904. “The state legislature chose the red carnation to honor President William McKinley, an Ohioan, who was assassinated in 1901. McKinley liked to wear red carnations stuck in his buttonhole on the lapel of his jacket.” Some say it was for good luck, and others remember that President McKinley believed that carnations represented love, respect, and reverence.

As it turns out, the deep connection between Ohio and the carnation began with a man here in Dayton named Lewis G. Reynolds. According to the Ohio Statehouse, “Dayton Ohio native Lewis G. Reynolds founded the Carnation League of America in 1903. The league encouraged all Americans to wear a red carnation on William McKinley’s birthday, January 29th.”

The carnation continues to be a symbol of McKinley, and a symbol of Ohio. The Ohio State University in Columbus plants fields of carnations to celebrate their colors of scarlet and gray. Alliance Ohio is known as “Carnation City” and throws a Carnation festival every August to celebrate Ohio’s roots – and to honor this beautiful flower.

Fun Facts About Carnations

With a long history that spans more than 2,000 years, its no wonder that the carnation has its fair share of interesting facts from throughout the ages.

  1. Carnations come in an array of different colors: red, white, pink, striped, yellow, and even green!
  • Carnations are native to Eurasia.
  • Carnations are thought to be used by the first time by Greeks and Romans in their garlands.
  • Carnations do not like soggy and wet soil. Soggy soil will cause their foliage to turn yellow.
  • Carnations are edible, and many chefs use them as garnish.
  • The essential oil of carnations carries many health benefits, including “helping to relieve stress levels, rashes, inflammation, skin irritation, fever, stomach aches, and pain,” according to Pollen Nation.

Carnations are not only beautiful, but they provide a little slice of Americana. They make perfect gifts, last a very long time as a cut flower, and are a proud symbol of the state we call home.

Ask Us About Our Carnations at Stockslagers

If you have a sunny spot where you’d like to plant some carnations, you’ll be able to enjoy their fragrant blooms all summer long. Here at Stockslagers, we are proud to offer the healthiest carnations around. Stop into our stores for packs of healthy carnations, and be sure to ask our friendly and knowledgeable staff members any questions you have about Ohio’s favorite flower.

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