Sweet William is the English common name for Dianthus barbatus, a perennial that was introduced to North America by Northern European settlers. The first recorded use of the name Sweet William was by the English botanist John Gerard who referred to Dianthus barbatus as “Sweete Williams” in his garden catalog published in 1596.
Each flower has five petals with serrated edges, and flowers are produced in clusters that can have a spicy clove-like scent. Neither my husband nor I can remember planting Sweet William in our garden. One plant flowered last year. Currently we have five plants, all of different colors, in bloom.