Skip to Content

How to Grow Sweet Williams

How to Grow Sweet Williams in your Cottage Garden, tough and reliable for years of beautiful blooms.

How to grow Sweet Williams is for those who want to add a tough but sweet smelling cottage flower to their garden. One of those easy flowers that grows in many zones.

Sweet Williams, how to grow Sweet Williams in your Cottage Garden #cottagegarden #easyflowers #gardening #scentedflowers

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info.

Growing Conditions

Sweet Williams prefer full sun but will tolerate light shade. They tend to grow taller and get a bit floppy if they get too much shade so if this occurs just plant in a sunnier spot the next time.

Sweet Williams are Easy to Grow from Seed

If starting indoors sow your seed in your containers 6 to 8 weeks prior to first frost. I have an entire post on how I start seeds early here.

Or you can winter sow them as I share in this post. This is super easy and successful!

But my favorite way for Sweet Williams takes patience and is super easy. In late summer scatter the Sweet William seeds on weed free soil where you want them to grow.

Don’t add a cover of  soil, just a firmly step on them to make sure there is good contact with the soil. They like loose, rich soil that drains well so don’t press them in too firmly. Keep them watered and watch for the seedlings.

Many say to thin the seedlings once they reach 3 inches tall to 12 inches apart. That is probably good advice but I rarely do. By next Spring you should have beautiful sweet smelling blooms. You can save the seeds from these plants to get more.

Or you can do what I do and just let them reseed at will. If they come up where I don’t want them I just dig them up and move them to where I do. They don’t seem to mind.

To see how I save seeds just hop on over to my Seed Saving for more Garden Blooms article!

Why Grow Sweet Williams

Sweet Williams will perfume your garden, that is the main reason why I grow them. Many traditional cottage garden flowers are sweetly scented.

For more scented flowers for your garden here is an entire post dedicated to flowers to grow for a scented gardenAdding scent to your garden adds another level of enjoyment.

Sweet Williams are a great biennial addition for Spring to Summer bloom with plenty of perfume. Biennials grow the first year then bloom the second. That is why I plant mine in late Summer Early Fall to get growing, then they bloom the following Spring.

Want a great downloadable cheat sheet for growing Sweet Williams? There is one in my Resource Library.  Just fill out the form included lower down in this post.

 How to Grow Sweet Williams

Sweet William Colors

They grow in various shades of red, pink, purple and white.  Some can have a variety of colors on one plants, which is fun too.

Here is a great mix to try Dianthus Sweet William Mix, lots of colors and plenty of seed.

This one was a happy accident of many colors cross pollinating in my garden and producing this gorgeous multi-colored specimen.

variegated sweet williams, How to Grow Sweet Williams

The photo below is a bunch of Sweet Williams by my Asiatic Lilies blooming away (the pink and fuchsia colored flowers behind the orange lilies).
They get to about 7 to 18 inches tall depending on variety and where they are planted.

 How to Grow Sweet Williams

I have always grown mine from seed or transplanted seedlings from one spot in the garden to another but you can also propagate by cuttings or root divisions.

You can also start them indoors, click here to see my method.

 How to Grow Sweet Williams

Great for Containers

They do well in pots and can bring a spot of Spring color to many spaces.  These two were volunteers in a potted rose this past summer.

 How to Grow Sweet Williams

Want access to the How to Grow Sweet Williams cheat sheet? Just fill out this form.

If you are already a subscriber then you have the password attached at the end of your latest email from me.

A variety I am trying out this season are the Sweet Williams Double Blend and their heirloom cousins Cottage Pinks.

What makes gardening so easy for me is I tend to favor flowers and plants that thrive in my area.  I give them what they need and let them go.

The Lazy Gal's Garden, a guide to growing a beautiful garden with little time-001

For a more info on how I garden visit my Lazy Gal Garden Guide posts.

Happy Gardening!


Feel Free to Share!

Garden Journal June 4th Update
Lavender sweet peas on bamboo support, how to grow sweet peas
How to Grow Sweet Peas in Your Garden

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Thursday 8th of April 2021

Love the sweet William! Looking for more fragrant floy


Monday 22nd of June 2020

Hi -

I got a late start and planted sweet william seeds indoors a couple weeks ago; they have all sprouted. My question is, if I transplant outside them once they get bigger - say the end of July, will the plants survive the winter (Zone 7) and flower next spring?



Wednesday 24th of June 2020

Yes, they should do just fine, mine over winter easily.

Vickie Halteman

Wednesday 17th of June 2020

My Sweet Williams are biennial, so how do I get blooms every year? Do I need to plant them in a different spot every other year? This is my first year to get blooms.


Thursday 18th of June 2020

I just let seeds fall in place and each year I get blooms. You can sow them in other areas you want as well, just save the seeds like I show in this post: Hope this helps.

JoAnn Birkholz

Sunday 4th of February 2018

What zones for these flowers that you can sow in winter?

Sharon Damiata

Thursday 19th of March 2020

I planted some a year ago but they have not flowered. Is there anything I can do to encourage blossoms? Please let me know,

Mike Anderson

Thursday 9th of November 2017

Hello Pamela, Your blog looking so beautiful with flowers. In your blog you suggested the great idea of growing sweet williams. Really, they will give the perfect and beautiful look to my garden. Thanks for sharing.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.