Sweet William is an herbaceous biennial or a short-lived perennial in the same family as Carnations and Pinks. Dianthus Barbatus grows wild in the mountains of southern Europe. It was only in the 1600s that it started being cultivated for its ornamental qualities in northern Europe.
The plants grow 6 to 18 inches tall and bear dense clusters of flowers at the top of their stems. Sweet William bloom in colours of pink, red and white, and each flower is 2-3 cm in diameter with five petals and serrated edges. The lush green foliage holds its space well even after flowering. Sweet William is an easy-to-care for plant that is suitable for beds, borders, containers, cut flowers and potpourris. A favourite with butterflies and bees.
- Life Cycle: Perennial
- Days to Maturity: Second-year
- Planting Depth: Broadcast directly
- Growth Habit: 30-45 cm tall
The short-lived perennial is often grown in cottage gardens, perennial beds and containers. Sweet william showcases bushy foliage and brightly coloured flowers of many shades.
Seeds can easily be started indoors or outdoors. Sow directly outside in late spring or early summer after the danger of frost has passed. The first year of outdoor growth doesn’t typically produce flowers. However, seeds started indoors may flower in their first growing season.
Six to eight weeks before the last frost, seeds can be started in flats or separate containers. Sow seeds on the surface of moist soil and mist well. Put them in a bright location, under lights or by a sunny window, and keep moist. Sweet william prefers cooler weather when germinating. Maintain an ambient temperature of 10-13 degrees. When they start to sprout, thin them out to provide space and good air flow. Seedlings can then be hardened off and transplanted outdoors after the danger of frost has passed.
Sweet william will do best in full sun, although in hot regions, afternoon shade will help extend the blooming window. Plant sweet william in rich, well-drained, loamy soil. Keep the soil moist with regular watering, but don’t allow it to become waterlogged. Sweet william is tolerant to many climates, except extreme heat. It will withstand light frosts, but will be killed by hard freezes. To promote blooming and vigorous growth, fertilize sweet william once every couple of months.
Space sweet williams about 20 cm apart to make room for the dense foliage that is produced during the first season. The flowers will self-seed at the end of the growing season, providing gardeners with a fresh bunch of volunteers every spring. The plants themselves usually die off after a couple of years, so take advantage of its tendency to produce plenty of seeds to replenish your supply of fresh flowers.
- The exact origin of its English name is unknown but is said to honour either William Shakespeare, the Duke of York or William the Conqueror.
- The term ‘’sweet’’ most likely comes from the distinctively fragrant clove-like and cinnamon scent of the blossoms.
- Sweet William seeds will remain viable for 2 years if stored in a cool, dark place, ideally between 4 and 10⁰C. After that, the germination rate may start to go down.
OUR SEED GUARANTEE
You know that a lush, fruitful garden needs good soil, frequent watering, and sunlight to grow, but it’s the seeds that really make the harvest.
Picked and bagged for 2023 the vast majority of our seeds have germination rates of over 85%. The seeds are all-natural, non-GMO, non-hybrid, untreated, and open-pollinated for seed saving.
We have put a lot of thoughts into the design and packaging of our seed packets. Our seeds are all carefully packed in food grade kraft paper/aluminium zipper lock bags, and then are shipped in eco-friendly padded mailers.
We heat-seal each of our seed packet for even more protection from moisture, odour and light, allowing you to store your seeds for up to 3x longer than paper or plastic. Plant them all, germinate some indoors, save some for next season - it’s up to you!
shipping and packaging great, will plant i...
shipping and packaging great, will plant in the spring