Clear Mountain Garden Treasures

Clear Mountain Garden TreasuresCulture and Germination - Sweet Williams

Sweet Williams

Family Caryophyllaceae
Name Dianthus barbatus
Common Name Sweet Williams

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This hardy compact biennial produces dainty flowers in shades of pinks, reds and white. Most flowers are bi-coloured. An old favourite, this plant is suitable for the front of the border and in cottage gardens.

Sweet Williams is actually a short lived perennial, and it is possible to keep it growing for several years by dead-heading. Alternatively, leave plants that have flowered to shed seed. Remove the dead plants to allow the seedlings space to grow.

This compact plant is also suitable for container culture. It is best planted together with taller flowering plants to provide vertical contrast.


Depth: ¼ cm
When: Summer
Where: In containers for transplanting later.


The best time to sow sweet williams is in the Summer. Sow at a depth of ¼ cm into moist seed raising mix. Prick the seedlings out when their leaves are about 2-3 cm long. At this stage, you can either plant them individually into black ½ litre polyethylene bags or into a large seedling tray.

Transplant into the garden in the Autumn and they should flower the following Spring. Some plants make take another year to flower. These will usually put out a few flowers the first Spring, then grow to a large size the following Spring before flowering.

I usually plant a few plants close to each other. This makes it look like the one plant is producing flowers of many colours.

Looks very nice when planted with granny's bonnet (aquilegia), especially ones with complimentary colours.

Sweet williams prefer good drainage and a slightly alkaline soil. Add lime before planting. Should be planted in full Sun in a spot that gets at least 5 hours of sunlight a day.

Alternatively, you can put a group of plants into a shallow pot. Water well.

Sweet williams will self-seed freely, so leave the dead heads on until well into Autumn.

Sweet williams is very hardy and should survive in most areas in NZ.







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