What Eats Carnations?

Carnations are voluminous bouquet favorites, and they’re just as beautiful when they’re out in the open, in our gardens.

Physically, there’s no debating that carnations are truly distinct.

They’re renowned for their frilly pink petals and can grow up to three feet in height. It’s no surprise you’re growing them!

However, it’s an unfortunate truth that carnations do, at times, find themselves vulnerable to predation. It seems that there are several out there who simply can’t keep away. 

So, what eats carnations? The predominant animal predators of carnations are rats, mice, rabbits, and birds, whilst common insects that pose the most risk are mites, leaf miners, and thrips. 

Below, I’ve gone into more detail on each one, as well as the steps you can take to keep your carnations pest free moving forward. 

So, keep reading if you really want to protect and salvage your carnations! 

What Is Eating My Carnation Flowers?

Rats & Mice

Rats are a huge proponent of carnation flowers.

In fact, carnations are just one of the many plants that rats enjoy feasting on.

They’ll eat both their leaves and their flowers, stripping the once wondrous plant to a mere stem.

Given their nocturnal nature, rats are most likely to feast on your carnations at night time.

So whilst it’s unlikely that you’ll catch them in the act, you’ll know they were there by the many holes and bare stems that they leave behind. 


Birds are most likely to nibble on your carnations during Spring time.

They initially approach them in pursuit of insects to munch on, but once they get a taste of the petals, they’ll swiftly move on the plant.

Whilst they are petal peckers more than anything, if they’re really hungry, they may just devour the entire flowerhead. 

Spider Mites

Spider mites may be tiny, but they certainly pose a real threat to carnations.

They work by feeding on the plant’s cells and sucking out their nutritious sap. The more spider mites present, the more severe the attack.

Without the nutrition it needs, it’s safe to say that your carnation will struggle, and in the very worst of scenarios, it may even die. 

Leaf Miners

Leaf miners can be found tunneling inside the leaves of carnation plants.

Essentially, they devour them from the inside out.

Without healthy leaves, the carnations struggle to produce food via photosynthesis.

Without food and energy, they’ll inevitably die. Leaf miners are not to be taken lightly. 


Thrips are a super common garden pest, but it’s easy to overlook them because of their tiny size. They’re both small in length and extremely thin too.

Nonetheless, whilst they’re difficult to spot, the repercussions of their presence certainly are not.

Thrips feed on both the leaves and flowers of carnations. Much like spider mites, they suck the sap out of the plant’s cells, in turn depleting it of the all-important nutrients it needs.

Consequently, the carnations become discolored, distorted, and, quite frankly, on the verge of death.

Thrips may be small, but they’re definitely not to be reckoned with! 

How Do I Stop My Carnation Flowers From Being Eaten?

Fortunately, it is very much possible to save your carnations from being eaten.

Below, I’ve rounded up a few effective solutions that you may want to adopt, stat! 

Neem Oil

Neem oil is derived from the neem tree and pretty much exists as nature’s insecticide.

Gardeners love it for its natural, non-toxic ingredients. The best way to use it is to rub it all over your carnations.

Your carnations will be perfectly fine, but when insects, be it thrips, miners, or mites, invade, the neem oil will suffocate them as soon as they come into contact with it.

They’ll die, and your carnations will live on! 

You can pick up some of the best Neem Oil around on Amazon.


Traditional store-bought insecticides are a worthy enough alternative to neem oil.

However, they do usually contain toxic ingredients, so if you have any pets or children roaming around, you’ll want to be extra careful.

If you can, scout out a non-toxic organic insecticide instead.

They exist, and the ingredients will be much cleaner and, thus, much more safe for everyone involved. 

Scent Deterrents

A fantastic way to repel animals from your carnations is through the use of scent deterrents.

The idea is to place scents that predatory animals dislike around, or even on, your carnations.

They’ll be so repulsed by the smell that they’ll most likely flee the area altogether.

Your carnations will stand proud and pest free. Easy!

To deter birds and rats, opt for citronella and peppermint scents.

If insects are the primary problem, give lavender or citronella a try. 

Physical Barriers

Another effective solution in keeping animals well away from your carnations is to restrict them physically.

By installing a fence around the perimeter of your carnations, you’ll prevent rats from reaching them. 

If birds are the problem, you could cover your carnations with bird netting.

This is especially useful when your carnations are young and not at their most established – it’s then that they’re fairly vulnerable and more easily harmed. 

Water Stream

To eliminate spider mites from your carnations, you could simply pick up your hosepipe…

A steady stream of water will be sufficient to knock those pesky mites right off. If you opt for this approach, thoroughness is a must.

Only then can you be sure that you’ve removed all of the mites, including any of their webs and eggs. 

How Do I Get My Carnations To Flower Again?

Ensuring that your carnations are healthy, thriving, and flowering is an exact science. 

Ensure Adequate Pest Control

Of course, the first step is pest control. If you suspect an invasion of any sort, and even if you don’t, start putting measures in place.

From neem oil to periodic hosing down of the plants, your future self and future carnations will thank you.

With The Right Care

Once you’ve put any pest issues to bed, you can proceed to undertake the usual care tactics that carnations require.

Fortunately, you’ll find that they don’t need much more than full sun and well-drained soil.

Ideally, you’ll fertilize the soil too.

Fertilizer helps plants to grow to the best of their abilities, and carnations, particularly if they’ve been subject to an animal or insect attack, would truly benefit from it.

For best results, use a well-balanced fertilizer. 

Prune Your Carnations

Finally, when Autumn arrives, and you’re sure that your carnations have ceased flowering, it’s a good time to go ahead and prune them.

Cut their stems back a little, and remove any dead flower heads and leaves.

This will encourage the plant to flower new healthier blooms and continue on in true perennial fashion. 

Related Questions

Do deer eat carnations?

Deer do not typically eat carnations. They often stay away due to the strong sweet and spicy flavor profile that these fragrant blossoms possess.

You may want to check out my other guides while you are here: