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Carnation vs. Marigold: What's the Difference?

By Aimie Carlson || Updated on May 22, 2024
Carnation flowers are known for their frilled petals and spicy fragrance, commonly used in bouquets, while marigold flowers have a bold, vibrant appearance and a pungent scent, often used in gardens for pest control.

Key Differences

Carnations, also known as Dianthus caryophyllus, are popular for their ruffled petals and range of colors, from white to deep red. They symbolize love and fascination, making them a favorite in floral arrangements. Marigolds, from the Tagetes genus, are celebrated for their bright orange and yellow blooms. They are often associated with festivals and ceremonies due to their vibrant hues.
Carnations thrive in well-drained soil and cooler climates, requiring moderate watering. They are typically grown in greenhouses for cut flowers. Marigolds, on the other hand, prefer warmer climates and can tolerate dry conditions. They are commonly planted in gardens to repel insects and pests due to their strong scent.
While carnations are known for their sweet, spicy fragrance, marigolds have a more pungent, sometimes medicinal scent. This distinct smell of marigolds is a natural deterrent for many garden pests, making them an eco-friendly option for pest control.
In terms of care, carnations need regular deadheading to promote continuous blooming and prevent disease. Marigolds require less maintenance and are more resilient, making them ideal for beginner gardeners. They also benefit from deadheading but are generally more forgiving if neglected.
Carnations can be grown from seeds, cuttings, or division, offering flexibility for gardeners. Marigolds are usually grown from seeds and are known for their rapid germination and growth, often blooming within weeks of planting.

Comparison Chart

Botanical Name

Dianthus caryophyllus

Petal Structure

Frilled petals, often multi-layered
Simple, round petals


Spicy, sweet
Pungent, sometimes medicinal

Climate Preference

Cooler climates
Warmer climates

Common Uses

Bouquets, floral arrangements
Gardens, pest control

Carnation and Marigold Definitions


A type of flowering plant with frilled petals.
The wedding bouquet featured white carnations.


A common garden plant used for pest control.
Planting marigolds helped keep the aphids away.


A symbol of love and admiration.
Red carnations are often given on Valentine's Day.


A type of flowering plant with bright orange or yellow blooms.
The garden was filled with vibrant marigolds.


A plant requiring well-drained soil and moderate watering.
The carnations thrived in the greenhouse's controlled environment.


A plant that thrives in warm climates and dry conditions.
The marigolds flourished in the sunny backyard.


A popular cut flower used in floral arrangements.
The florist arranged pink carnations with baby's breath.


A flower known for its strong, pungent scent.
Marigolds are often planted to repel insects.


Any of numerous cultivated forms of a perennial plant (Dianthus caryophyllus) having showy, variously colored, usually double, often fragrant flowers with fringed petals.


Any of various North and South American plants of the genus Tagetes of the composite family, widely cultivated for their showy yellow or orange flowers.


A flower of this plant. Also called clove pink.


Any of several plants having similar flowers, such as calendula or marsh marigold.


A pinkish tint once used in painting.


Any of the Old World plants, of the genus Calendula, with orange, yellow or reddish flowers.


A type of Eurasian plant widely cultivated for its flowers.


Any of the New World plants, of the genus Tagetes, with orange, yellow or reddish flowers.


Originally, Dianthus caryophyllus


A million pounds sterling.


Other members of genus Dianthus and hybrids


Rubber glove for cleaning


The type of flower they bear, originally flesh-coloured, but since hybridizing found in a variety of colours.


Having the color of marigolds, a bright yellowish-orange hue.


A rosy pink colour


A name for several plants with golden yellow blossoms, especially the Calendula officinalis (see Calendula), and the cultivated species of Tagetes.


(archaic) The pinkish colors used in art to render human face and flesh


Any of various tropical American plants of the genus Tagetes widely cultivated for their showy yellow or orange flowers


A scarlet colour.


A symbol of warmth and positivity.
Marigolds are used in many cultural festivals.


Of a rosy pink or red colour.


(archaic) Of a human flesh color.


The natural color of flesh; rosy pink.
Her complexion of the delicate carnation.


Those parts of a picture in which the human body or any part of it is represented in full color; the flesh tints.
The flesh tints in painting are termed carnations.


A species of Dianthus (Dianthus Caryophyllus) or pink, having very beautiful flowers of various colors, esp. white and usually a rich, spicy scent.


Eurasian plant with pink to purple-red spice-scented usually double flowers; widely cultivated in many varieties and many colors


A pink or reddish-pink color


Having the color of a carnation


A flower known for its sweet, spicy fragrance.
She loves the spicy scent of carnations in her garden.


Which flower is easier to grow for beginners?

Marigolds are easier to grow and require less maintenance compared to carnations.

What climates do carnations prefer?

Carnations thrive in cooler climates with well-drained soil.

Can marigolds be used for pest control?

Yes, marigolds are effective in repelling pests due to their strong scent.

What is the main difference between carnations and marigolds?

Carnations have frilled petals and a sweet, spicy fragrance, while marigolds have bold, vibrant petals and a pungent scent.

Do carnations have a strong fragrance?

Yes, carnations have a sweet, spicy fragrance.

Can marigolds grow in partial shade?

Marigolds prefer full sun but can tolerate partial shade.

Which flower is more suitable for bouquets?

Carnations are more commonly used in bouquets due to their variety of colors and long-lasting blooms.

What cultural significance do marigolds have?

Marigolds are often used in festivals and ceremonies, symbolizing warmth and positivity.

Do marigolds need a lot of water?

Marigolds are drought-tolerant and do not require frequent watering.

What soil is best for growing carnations?

Well-drained, fertile soil is ideal for carnations.

Are carnations used in any traditional celebrations?

Yes, carnations are used in many cultural and religious ceremonies.

How long do carnation flowers last after being cut?

Carnations can last up to two weeks when cut and placed in water.

What do carnations symbolize?

Carnations symbolize love, fascination, and distinction.

Can carnations be grown from cuttings?

Yes, carnations can be propagated from seeds, cuttings, or division.

How often should marigolds be deadheaded?

Regular deadheading is beneficial but not as critical as with carnations.

Are marigolds annual or perennial plants?

Most marigolds are annuals, but some varieties can be perennials in warmer climates.

Are marigolds edible?

Yes, marigold petals are edible and sometimes used in salads and as a natural dye.

Do marigolds need fertilizer?

Marigolds benefit from occasional fertilization but are generally low-maintenance.

Can carnations be grown indoors?

Yes, carnations can be grown indoors with adequate light and care.

What pests do marigolds repel?

Marigolds repel aphids, mosquitoes, and nematodes.
About Author
Written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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