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Sweet William Dianthus: A Biennial Showstopper!

Whether you consider to them to be grown as an annual, biennial, or short-lived perennial; Sweet William, or dianthus barbartus, is absolutely lovely in the garden. Who could have imagined that one little flower could make such a huge difference in the cut flower patch?Since establishing a patch of Sweet William, they’ve become a staple of the cut flower garden. Most Sweet William seeds I’ve sown in the past have had a hardiness zone of zones 3-9. This makes it a great option for those looking for fragrant early season flowers for pollinators.

When I first began gardening, the idea of growing biennial flowers was somewhat mysterious. I wasn’t quite sure where to start, or what I should expect. As it turns out, the process of growing these flowers couldn’t be more simple. 

Essentially, a biennial plant is one which lives for two seasons. In the first season, the seed germinates and the plant begins to produce green growth. During the second season, the plant will flower and make seeds. This is the manner in which Sweet William generally behaves, however, there are some exceptions. Hybridized options, such as the ‘Amazon’ series, will allow for planting and blooms in the same season. This is a perfect option for us, impatient gardeners, who are eager for a beautiful display! 

Biennial seeds can be started in either spring or mid summer to produce the best results. Sowing the seed is simple, in many cases, direct sowing will yield nice results. Once Sweet William plants become established and are allowed to drop seed, they may reseed themselves quite freely in the garden. As always, be sure to check any local invasive species lists before planting.

Most Sweet William seeds I’ve sown in the past have had a hardiness zone of zones 3-9. This makes it a great option for those looking for fragrant early season flowers for pollinators. 

Published on Apr 26, 2018

Mother Earth Gardener

Expert advice on all aspects of growing.