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Sweet William Fast Facts

By Vikki McMahon ; Updated September 21, 2017

Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) is a biennial plant native to the mountainous regions of southern Europe. It is most commonly found in landscaping and cut flower gardens.


In the 16th century, sweet William was introduced to northern Europe and later to North America.


Sweet William is prized for its variety of color. Its white, pink, red or purple blooms are popular in ornamental gardens, borders, and window boxes from early spring into summer.


Sweet William can be found in dwarf forms that grow from 6 to 8 inches tall. The full-sized plant grows 12 to 18 inches tall.


Seeds can be sown directly into the garden, spaced 4 to 6 inches apart. Spent blooms should be left to reseed themselves for the following season.

Fun Fact

In the Victorian flower language, sweet William symbolizes gallantry. It is uncertain if the flower was named for Saint William of York, William the Conqueror or Prince William Augustus.


About the Author


Vikki McMahon attended the College of New Jersey before experiencing a variety of career choices, including the pharmaceutical research field, the real estate industry and the Insurance industry. She has been a freelance writer since 2008 and shares her enthusiasm for parenting and home and garden topics, with published articles appearing on stressfreeliving.com and thebabybin.com.