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Growing Sweet William

Category Flowers
Sweet William is easy to grow, requires little maintenance, and reseeds. These pretty biennials add color and a sweet fragrance to your flower garden. This is a guide about growing Sweet William.


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By 1 found this helpful
March 13, 2006

Botanical Name:

Dianthus barbatus

Life Cycle:


Planting Time:

spring or summer


dwarf forms 6" to 8"; full-sized 12" to 18"


full sun


dry to evenly moist, well-drained soil; neutral to alkaline pH


zones 4-8

Bloom Time:

early spring into summer


red, pink and white combinations





Suggested Use:

cut flowers, beds, borders, and window boxes

Growing Hints:

Sow Sweet William seeds in summer directly into soil. Don't pinch off spent flowers and they will reseed themselves for the next year. If planting transplants, space them 4 to 6 inches apart. When older flowers stop sending up new shoots, cutting stems back by half will reinvigorate them.

Interesting Facts:

Sweet William is related to the carnation.
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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 1 found this helpful
September 26, 2011

I planted some Sweet William from seeds and love it! Do these plants reseed themselves but the plant dies (like a marigold) or does the plant survive and you just cut it back (like a daisy). Thanks so much!

By mindy from Terrebonne, OR


September 27, 20110 found this helpful

They will reseed themselves, the foilage dies awat.You can prob gather the seed pods from them when the foilge dries.

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October 20, 20140 found this helpful

When is the best time to control sweet William dwarf during its life-cycle?

By sam

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July 25, 20120 found this helpful

I am planning to do a bed of Sweet William next season. I have collected seed from the few volunteers I currently have, and will get more from a buddy with an extensive garden of them.


My question: Given the different varieties of color and pattern, does each color yield seeds in that color, or do they express the entire range of colors? My worry is that the whites have yielded the most seed, yet are my least favorite. I have not seen a garden consisting of just one color.

By Brian M

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