502F Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) was a popular plant in my grandmother’s garden. Today, thanks to the introduction of the Amazon series, this winter annual winner is making a dramatic comeback. " /> Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) was a popular plant in my grandmother’s garden. Today, thanks to the introduction of the Amazon series, this winter annual winner is making a dramatic comeback. " /> CAES NEWSWIRE | 13 Garden stunner Skip to Main Menu Skip to Content

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Comeback plant wins winter annual gold medal
By Bodie Pennisi
University of Georgia

Volume XXXIII
Number 1
Page 13

Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) was a popular plant in my grandmother’s garden. Today, thanks to the introduction of the Amazon series, this winter annual winner is making a dramatic comeback.

Its cousins in the Amazon series of dianthus were named the 2008 Georgia Gold Medal winner for winter annuals. They were the result of crossing Sweet William with Chinese pinks (Dianthis chinensis).

The first introduction, called Neon Duo, made its debut in 2002 and was an instant sensation among landscapers and home gardeners. It bears clusters of bright cherry red to purple flowers on the same plant and makes a dazzling statement wherever it is planted.

Other introductions in the Amazon dianthus series soon followed, including Bouquet Purple, Neon Cherry, Neon Purple and Rose Magic. They are prized for their unique variations in flower color, often on the same plant. Rose Magic, for instance, bears a profusion of rose, pink, cherry and white hues within a single flower cluster. The flowers are sweetly fragrant, and they attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

The Amazon dianthus series are cool-season annuals, so it’s best to plant them in fall for winter and spring color. They make good companion plants for pansies, parsley, ornamental cabbage and ornamental kale. In some locations, the plants may live two years, but it’s best to grow them like an annual.

Amazon dianthus is excellent for cut floral arrangements. They have strong stems easily reaching 24 inches in height and can last up to two weeks in a vase.

All the plants in the Amazon dianthus series prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Like other annuals, they benefit when organic matter, like compost, is added to the planting area. Fertilize in late winter and spring with a granular fertilizer such as 10-10-10, 16-4-8 or 12-4-8. Amazon dianthus also adapt well to containers.

To ensure a continuous display of blooms, remove old flowers when they fade.

(Bodie Pennisi is a Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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