The dianthus is a beautiful flower that's sometimes called "carnation". It also goes by the name sweet william or pinks. There are more than 100 varieties of this perennial. The name dianthus is Greek and means "heavenly flower". Dianthus grows well in soil that drains, that's neutral or slightly alkaline, and that is in full sun. It has a flavor that is spicy, peppery, and clove-like, making it especially useful as a pretty addition to a green, garden salad or spreads and dips. The dianthus is the birth flower for people born in January.