Form and Size:
The leafy stems of sweet William are 18 – 28 inches long. The flower head is daisy-like with fringed petals protruding out from a center disc. There are many blooms that cluster tightly together on one stem.
5 – 10 days
Remove any leaves from the bottom of the stem that will fall below the water line, cut stems under water and place in fresh water with flower food.
History and Usage:
A member of the Caryophyllaceae (pink) family, sweet William originated in southern Europe. Its botanical name comes from the word “di” which is Greek for of Zeus or Jove and “anthos” which is Greek for flower. There are various stories that attempt to explain how it got its popular name. One story states that the name came from the word "oeillet" which is French for eye. This is in reference to the eye of the flower, which is often a different color than the petals. It was then shortened to “Willy” and then in English, William. Another explanation states that it is named that in honor of St. William or William Shakespeare.
Points of Interest:
Relatives of sweet William include carnation, babies breath, silene, chickweed and snow-in-summer. To Victorians, sweet william represents childhood, memory, gallantry, finesse and dexterity.