Dianthus barabatus, commonly known as Sooty Sweet William, is an easy to care for biennial plant that is self seeding. A popular choice in cottage gardens, this plant also works well in a gothic garden because of the purplish black foliage and dark maroon or black flowers that bloom in clusters for several weeks during the growing season. The removal of flowers that are done blooming will encourage the formation of new buds. At the end of the growing season, pruning the plants back will help them to return again the following year for another blooming season.
The Sooty Sweet William grows best in full sun and blooms from late Spring through mid summer. The plants do well in normal soil, as well as in sandy soil or clay. They will grow to be about twelve to eighteen inches high and will spread out about eight to twelve inches. Sooty Sweet William plants makes great accent flowers, and they work well in border and containers. They have a nice fragrance and will attract butterflies to the garden. These are also a good choice for mass plantings in any garden setting.
This flower can be directly sown from seed outside during the fall months of the year. The seeds may also be started indoors in winter if planted in vented containers, or started indoors before the last frost of winter. Seeds may also be sown outdoors after the last frost of the season.
Combining the Sooty Sweet William with other flowers that are deep red or maroon, deep purple, or so dark that they appear black are all great choices for a gothic garden. Suggested plants include the Black Hollyhock, Black Knight Morning Glories, Black Pansies, and the Black Calla Lily. Try to choose dark colored plants that bloom in various seasons, so that your gothic garden has a sense of mystery throughout the entire blooming season.