Sweet William: Your Ultimate Flower Guide
Meanings, Facts and Care Tips
Sweet Williams are an old-fashioned cottage garden favourite, their sweet scent and pretty fringed petals reminiscent of summers past. We're here to show you all things you maybe didn't know about them! With this ultimate flower guide on Sweet Williams, you'll be a pro in no time.
Sweet William Facts & Origins
Part of the dianthus family, Sweet Williams have been a popular British garden plant since the 16th century.
The earliest recorded reference to them appears in the garden catalogue of botanist John Gerard in 1598.
However, despite being seen as a quintessentially British summer flower, Sweet Williams have their origins in southern Europe and parts of Asia.
Scientific name: Dianthus Barbatus
Common name: Sweet William
Vase life: Approx. 5-10 days Colour range: A cheerful mix of purple, pink, burgundy, lilac and white.
The Meaning of Sweet William
According to the Victorian language of flowers, Sweet Williams signify gallantry.
It can be of no surprise therefore that the Duchess of Cambridge chose to include the white Sweet William in her wedding bouquet in 2011 – in honour of her own gallant Prince, no doubt.
Did You Know?
The flowers of Sweet William are edible and have a peppery, clove like flavour- perfect for adding into summer salads.
Types of Sweet William
Like many other flowers, there are a great variety of Sweet William flowers out there. See some of the most popular ones below.
Pinocchio Sweet William
A double-flower sweet william that's relatively small compared to some of the other varieties.
Wee Willie Sweet William
One of the smallest varieties, these little beauties only grow to 5 inches tall!
Giant Imperial Sweet William
This one is one of the taller varieties of sweet william and comes in an array of colours.
Heart Attack Sweet WIlliam
A reddish-black flower, this one is named for the deep red colour that it sports.
Sooty Sweet William
Has dark maroon-and-chocolate-coloured flowers, red stems and leaves that begin green but turn to mahogany in early summer
Sweet William Care Tips
- Rinse the stems under cold water and cut 2-3cm from the bottom.
- Fill a clean vase full of fresh water and add your flower food as directed on the packet.
- Remove all foliage below the water line and change water every day, re-cutting the stems each time.
- Keep out of direct heat sources to prolong vase life.
- Change the water completely every 2-3 days and ensure water levels are topped up in between as sweet williams are thirsty flowers
Note: Cut stems between the nodes for maximum water uptake.
For the Home
Sweet Williams are mainly used by florists in mixed bouquets as opposed to being the focal flower in an arrangement.
They work particularly well with other summer blooms such as peonies and stocks, adding texture and scent to displays. Achieve a natural country look by arranging Sweet Williams with Alchemilla mollis and astrantia.
Sweet Williams aren’t a commonly used wedding flower but have seen a resurgence in popularity since the Duchess of Cambridge chose to include them in her wedding bouquet to Prince William in 2011. Sweet Williams are also a good choice for brides who want to use British grown flowers, as they are widely available in the summer months.
It’s lovely to see
so many traditional garden flower varieties coming back into fashion and the Sweet William is no exception. They have a timeless appeal and are a great option for brides who want to achieve a vintage look on their big day.
Natalie Shaw, Wedding Florist