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DIANTHUS barbatus

Image of Dianthus barbatus

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Caryophyllaceae

Botanical Name

DIANTHUS barbatus

Plant Common Name

Sweet William

General Description

Originally native to southern Europe, sweet william is a short-lived perennial which is commonly treated as an annual or biennial. Beloved for its bright clusters of lightly scented flowers borne in summer, this old fashioned favorite self-sows readily to form charming colonies, ensuring its long-lived presence in the garden. Much hybridization has occurred to broaden the range of flower and leaf colors of sweet william, as well as to intensify its fragrance.

Typically blooming in the second season from sowing, sweet william produces dense, flat-topped clusters of single, disk-like flowers from late spring through midsummer. The small, mildly fragrant blossoms have fringed edges, and appear in various solid and bicolor shades of white, pink, red, lavender, purple and rose, often with a lighter colored central eye. They rise amid clumps of flat, lance shaped, semi-evergreen leaves, and are visited by bees and butterflies.

Plant sweet william in full to part sun and average, well-drained, neutral to alkaline soil. Provide with more shade in areas with very hot summers. Prompt removal of spent flower stems encourages heavier reblooming, however, they should be allowed to reseed if more plants are desired. New seedlings tend to "pop up" surprisingly in nooks and crannies of the garden, and frequently result in different, uniquely colored flowers. This cottage garden classic is at home in casual, well-drained beds and borders, and makes an effective and long-lasting cut flower.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    18"-26" / 45.7cm - 66.0cm

  • Width

    8"-12" / 20.3cm - 30.5cm

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Southern Europe

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Pink, Light Pink, Magenta, Rose, Lavender

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bedding Plant, Container, Cutflower, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes