In addition to collecting my own seed I like to try new varieties.
Suttons seeds have a ‘Kaleidoscope mix that I have just bought as an experiment. They were half price in the Wyvale sale and look as though the flower heads will feature white and a range of other pastel colours.
Cottage garden favourites are now running to seed in my garden. I am glad I dead headed the plants earlier and got a second flush of flowers but now is the time to collect seed.
Sweet William Seed.
- Each pollinated floret will generate seed which is held in a firm upright cup.
- As the seed dries and gets ready for distribution the cup opens and the black ‘gritty’ seeds can be shaken out. I use old envelopes to collect the seed into so I can keep and name different seeds.
- If only a proportion of the seed capsules are open gently shake the plant into your container. If the majority are open I cut the head off, invert it over some paper and gently shake and squeeze to extract the seed.
- Sweet Williams are quite promiscuous so do not always grow just like the parent you collected from. They will have many of the characteristics so select from the colours you like. The red flowered, red leaved types are my favourite but you may prefer the pastel or chocolate kinds.
- Nature knows what it is doing and the seeds can be sown now to germinate and grow before the ground gets too cold. If you want an informal effect you can just shake your seedheads over a soil patch and wait.
- Other members of the Dianthus family such as Pinks and carnations can be treated in the same way
The seed I collect will be organic as I have not used any chemicals for the last two years on or around my Sweet Williams. However they will not be certified by the soil association but in the scheme of things that wont matter.
Sowing & Growing Tips
As I have just bought the seeds I am sowing them to overwinter and flower next year.
If sown in February or March they should flower the same year.
They like a bit of space to excel so allow 6-9 inches apart when planting out in the final sunny positions.