Dianthus barbatus, Sweet Williams carnation

Sweet William carnation flowers in red, pink and white clusters

Sweet William, or barbatus carnation, is perfect for decorating flower beds and garden boxes thanks to its magnificent colors.

Key Sweet William facts

NameDianthus barbatus
Family – Caryophyllaceae
Type – biennial

 – 8 to 16 inches (20 to 40 cm)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – well drained, ordinary

Sowing – May to August
 – May to September.

Planting, sowing sweet William

How to sow sweet William

Sweet William is sown at the end of spring or in summer for it to bloom in the following year.

  • Broadcast seeds without covering them after sowing, since they need light of day to sprout.
  • Water using a gentle spray until seeds sprout without flooding your Sweet William seeds.
  • Sprouting usually occurs about 1 week after sowing.
  • Transplant sweet William in fall outdoors, spacing them about 8 inches (20 cm) apart.
  • Let your carnation spend the winter outdoors.

Note that your sweet William will need sufficient sun to bloom, at least 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight a day.

Caring for sweet William

Sweet William carnation doesn’t require any care once it is properly settled in. Performing these few tasks will help enhance and extend the blooming.

  • To stimulate appearance of new flowers, cut wilted flowers regularly (deadheading).
  • The act of cutting wilting flowers off as they die helps prepare a second blooming towards the end of the season.
  • Water in case of prolonged dry spells or heat wave only.

All there is to know about sweet William

Native to Northern Europe and Asia, the Sweet William carnation variety is sought after for its cute flowers that make superb colored bouquets, and also for its leaves and stems that make it an easy flower to cut and pair.

Its flowers are striped and only rarely of a solid color, and thus bestow pinks and whites, purples and cream colors, fuchsia and pink or even violet and black.

Smart tip about Sweet William

Sweet William flowers are vulnerable to rust. To avoid this, rotate them to a different spot from one year to the next.

  • Read all our gardening info-pages about carnations

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Cluster of beauty by Светлана Гурьева under Pixabay license