A list of showy, colorful flowers would likely include carnations (Dianthus spp.), also called pinks. These perennials usually grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, although this can vary slightly with the type of carnation. If you love carnations, you can bring similar flowers to other parts of your yard by choosing from a number of flowering trees with blossoms similar in shape and color to carnations.
Ornamental Fruit Trees
Many types of deciduous fruit trees have attractive, carnationlike flowers, with some grown exclusively for their blooms and others also bearing fruit after the flowering season. The Japanese cherry tree cultivar "Kwanzan" (Prunus serrulata "Kwanzan") is a good example that grows in USDA zones 5 through 9. Its showy, double pink flowers are similar to fluffy pink carnations, but smaller. The peach tree (Prunus persica) is another fruit tree with flowers that resemble single-petaled carnations; this example also bears fruit later in the season. It grows in USDA zones 5 through 8 and, like the "Kwanzan" cherry tree, blooms in mid- to late-spring.
Several trees with a shrubby growth habit also have flowers reminiscent of carnations. For example, the rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) produces several main stems, although it responds well to pruning into a single-trunked, more treelike shape. About 8 feet tall when mature, it's a summer bloomer with single-petaled flowers in shapes and colors similar to carnations, but its flowers can be larger than most carnations. Rose of Sharon grows in USDA zones 5 through 9. Camellia (Camellia japonica) also has a shrubby growth habit and, like rose of Sharon, can be trimmed to a more treelike form. Its flowers come in colors similar to carnations -- white, red and pink -- and they have a round but flattened shape like a carnation when fully open. Camellias grow in USDA zones 6 through 9.
Many flowering trees have fragrant flowers that perfume the air, and a few produce blossoms that resemble carnations. Yulan magnolia (Magnolia heptapeta) is one example that can grow to 40 feet tall. Its flowers are creamy white with a shape similar to a carnation, although they're larger -- up to 6 inches across. It grows in USDA zones 6 through 9. Tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa) is another example of a small tree or shrub that has round, flattened flowers resembling carnations when fully open. Some varieties such as Delicate Fragrant White (Paeonia suffruticosa "Qing Xiaang Bai") are also sweetly fragrant as an added bonus. This plant grows in USDA zones 4 through 8.
Other small trees produce flowers that look like carnations. Japanese rose (Rosa rugosa) is a multistemmed deciduous tree or shrub. Native to Asia, it can reach a height of 6 feet when mature and has an invasive tendency in some locations. Its flowers are usually white or rosy-pink, and are five-petaled and single, like many carnations; they usually appear in May through July. The Japanese rose grows in USDA zones 2 through 7. Pomegranate tree (Punica granatum) also has carnationlike flowers. It comes in many varieties, including some grown just for their showy, single or double flowers in many colors, including pink, apricot, orange and red. Pomegranate grows in USDA zones 8 through 11.
- Fine Gardening: Carnation -- Dianthus
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Prunus Serrulata "Kwazan" -- Kwanzan Cherry
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Prunus Persica -- Peach
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Hibiscus Syriacus -- Rose of Sharon
- Floridata: Camellia Japonica
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Rosa Rugosa
- Floridata: Punica Granatum
- Floridata: Magnolia Heptapeta
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Paeonia Suffruticosa "Qing Xiang Bai" -- Delicate Fragrant White
Joanne Marie began writing professionally in 1981. Her work has appeared in health, medical and scientific publications such as Endocrinology and Journal of Cell Biology. She has also published in hobbyist offerings such as The Hobstarand The Bagpiper. Marie is a certified master gardener and has a Ph.D. in anatomy from Temple University School of Medicine.