Sweet William


BOTANICAL:Dianthus barbatus

PRONOUNCED: dy-AN-thus bar-BAY-tus

COMMON: Sweet William

BLOOM:  Early June to mid-July

HEIGHT: 6″ – 2 ft.


ZONE: 5 – 8

June – Bicolor. Color combinations range from crimson to pink. Also available in solid white, pink, salmon, purple, red or lavender.

COMMENTS: Sweet Williams are well-known cottage garden plants cultivated since the 16th Century in England. The blooms are dense, flat-topped clusters of varicolored flowers. It is a biennial* in very cold zones and a perennial in warmer zones. If allowed to set seed, clusters of new plants often form around the old stalk. A well-drained, humusy soil should keep it happy. This close relative of the carnation is a wildflower taken directly into gardens from the wild. There are now hundreds of hybrids made from this flower and others in the ‘pink’ family. The flowers last long in the vase. It dislikes humidity. Suggested cultivars:

D. barbatus ‘Heart Attack’ with gorgeous brilliant red-black blossoms, has proved itself to be a reliable self-seeder, returning and improving for many years.
D. barbatus ‘Double Dwarf’, 6″, is a mixture of flower colors.
D. barbatus ‘Dunnet’s Dark Crimson’ has dark crimson flowers.
D. barbatus ‘Hollandia Hybrid’, 2 ft. The rounded flowerheads produce a variety of colors.
D. barbatus ‘Scarlet Beauty’, 16″, has beautiful scarlet flowers.

*Biennial: A plant that lives for two years or growing seasons, producing leaves the first season, and flowers and seeds the second.