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Dianthus chinensis Telstar (photo courtesy of Thomas J. Story)
Dianthus chinensis Telstar (photo courtesy of Thomas J. Story)

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Zones A2, A3, 1-24
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Full, Partial
Regular Water

Dianthus barbatus

Sweet William
Annuals, Flowers


More than 300 species and an extremely large number of hybrids. Most kinds form attractive evergreen mats or tufts of grasslike green, gray-green, blue-green, or gray-blue leaves. Single, semidouble, or double flowers in white and shades of pink, rose, red, yellow, and orange; many have a rich, spicy fragrance. Main bloom period for most is spring into early summer; some kinds rebloom later in season or keep going into fall if faded flowers are removed. All kinds of dianthus thrive in light, fast-draining soil.

Dianthus barbatus

Vigorous biennial often grown as an annual. From southern Europe. Grows to 20 in. high and 1 ft. wide, with sturdy stems. Leaves are flat, light to dark green. Dense clusters of white, pink, rose, red, purplish, or bicolored flowers, about 1/2 in. across, set among leafy bracts; not very fragrant. Sow seeds in late spring for bloom the following year. Double-flowered and dwarf strains are obtainable from seed. Indian Carpet is only 6 in. high. The Amazon series grows to 18–36 in. high.

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