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Ask Ella: Cozy Up With Green Ball Dianthus

Ask Ella is a recurring Garden Collage feature where we ask our in-house florist, Ella Stavonsky, about floral design– including the history of, origin, and maintenance that goes into some of the most intriguing flowers on the market today. This column is dedicated exclusively to common and rare varieties of flowers you’re likely to find at your local market. This week, we spotlight green ball dianthus, the odd, fuzzy plants that keeps green alive in wintertime. 


Though it looks like a cast-off alien, green ball dianthus (Dianthus barbathus) is actually quite a common find at florists, particularly in the winter months when selection grows thin. Sometimes also known as a green carnation ball, green ball dianthus is easily recognized by its startling vivid color and fuzzy appearance. It is almost perfectly spherical and comes one to a stem, and in bouquets it looks like a patch of moss. During the colder season it seems especially apt, with its soft, furry texture.

Green Ball Dianthus Ask Ella 2

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When properly cared for, green ball dianthus can last up to two weeks (and can even be dried to last longer). For best practices, give them plenty of water– they can look a little wilted after the journey home, but a healthy cup of cold water should wake them up. In bouquets, green ball dianthus can be a little tricky, however– they tend to take up a lot of space physically (because of their round shape) and visually (because of their arresting color). To get around this, we suggest mixing them in with a balance of bolder flowers (like cabbages or artichokes for a wild foraged vibe) to draw attention and smaller, discrete flowers (like viburnum) to break up their shape. Ferns likewise embrace the woodsy look of green ball dianthus, while offering a contrast in shape and texture.

If you’re not sure about working them into a bouquet, you can also turn them into a decorative object by removing the stems; we staged a few in the sleek Pulpo vase pictured above to create a sophisticated, seasonal “arrangement”.

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