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Sweet Williams

Rhonda Asked

In Kentucky, spring started early. I was wondering…this is my Sweet William second year, so it’s a blooming year for it; but because of an early spring, do I need to do anything special to ensure it blooms properly?

The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, Rhonda: There are a couple of plants that are commonly called Sweet William. Since you mentioned that yours is biennial, I assume that you are referring to Dianthus barbatus, and not Phlox. Dianthus barbatus is a short-lived perennial, often grown as an annual or biennial in Kentucky. If given the right growing conditions, these plants will reseed each year and provide flowers for many years. They may not stay true to seed, and bloom different colors than the parent plants, but just as lovely. Sweet William is best grown in full to part sun and nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. You can add granular slow-release plant food (10-10-10) if you didn’t last winter. Additional nutrients are recommended every 6-8 weeks during the growing season. Liquid or granular fertilizer is fine, just be careful not to over feed. Otherwise, you have done the hard work. Now you can anticipate and enjoy the flowers.

Angie Oakley

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