Dianthus barbatus 'Pinocchio'
Common Name: sweet William
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Red, pink, white and bicolor (double)
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer


Best grown in deep, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun, but generally appreciates some light afternoon shade in hot summer climates such as the St. Louis area. ‘Pinocchio’ is a biennial or short-lived perennial dianthus that may be grown from seed. Seed may be started in the garden in early fall for bloom the following year. Nursery plants may also be planted in fall. Seed may be started indoors in early spring or in cold frames for bloom in the first year. Seed may also be planted directly in the garden in spring near the last frost date. Notwithstanding the foregoing, cold-treated plants may be planted in spring and grown as annuals. In optimum growing conditions, this dianthus will reseed each year and remain in the garden for many years. Prompt deadheading of spent flowers (shear back large plantings) promotes perennial tendencies.

Noteworthy Characteristics

‘Pinocchio’ is a dwarf, double-flowering sweet William that typically grows to 9” tall. Small fringed flowers in a range of vivid colors including red, pink, white and bicolor, sometime with a contrasting eye, bloom in dense flat-topped clusters (cymes) from late spring to early summer. Lance-shaped medium green leaves (to 4” long).


Susceptible to crown rot and rust, particularly in poorly-drained soils. Watch for snails and slugs.

Garden Uses

Cottage gardens. Beds and borders. Containers.