Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Name That Plant

Dianthus? Weed? Or something completely different? I'm stumped, and so are my local gardening friends, including the person who can usually identify plants no one else can.

Maybe if it was blooming I could tell. Or maybe the green buds are actually the blooms? These are in mounded clumps about 18 inches tall, in a garden that does have some weedy areas. We aren't sure whether to leave it or dig it. (These plants were there when the new owner bought the property.)

You can click on the photo to enlarge it. If anyone can help me identify this plant, I'd be most grateful!


  1. Hi Linda, don't dig it! That is Sweet William, Dianthus barbatus. It is a biennial and the seeds remain viable for years, sometimes germinating when the soil is disturbed. Save the seed and spread it about after the blooms have dried up to continue having even more of this wonderful plant.

  2. Hi Linda .. I'm sure Frances is right because I had it in my garden last year .. "Sooty" a very dark brown/burgundy .. one of the "chocolate" plants for a chocolate garden .. yes .. it WAS the obvious pick for me I know ! haha .. enjoy it girl .. it is unusual and quite pretty : )

  3. It looks kind of like evening primrose, a yellow kind that I have in my garden. Not sure on the buds though. I bet Frances is correct though.

  4. Good morning Frances, and thank you! It's such a pretty plant even before blooming, with a nice mounded shape and glossy foliage. Dianthus was my first guess, and was also mentioned by my favorite local plant expert, Pop at the nursery.

    Doing a google search on dianthus didn't help much in narrowing it down since there are so, so many varieties of dianthus. I just knew my blogging friends would know what it is! Thanks again for your help! I don't think I've ever seen this variety at the nurseries around here. I'm sure the homeowner will be happy to know what it is.

    Hi Joy, thanks for confirming Frances' ID on the dianthus! I'm curious now what color these are. Maybe they're even multi-colored. She has quite a few nice large clumps of this very pretty historic heirloom plant.

    Good morning Tina, it's hard enough identifying some plants in person, and from a photo it can be even more of challenge.

    I googled it and learned it's an heirloom plant with a rich history, grown in cultivated gardens in Europe since at least the 1500's, and was grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello! Neat, huh?

  5. Yeah, I was going to guess Sweet William, we had some piggyback into our back garden.

  6. Since Frances seems to have identified the plant, all I can offer is "Suzanne." That is what I think you should name the plant. Ha! (Wait, no. I'm serious. Dianthus barbatus 'Suzanne.') OK! :)

  7. I didn't have a clue. But I can tell you Frances usually knows!

  8. K&V, that's a nice bonus! They are pretty plants.

    Monica, I was thinking Dianthus barbatus 'Frances.' (!)

    Hi Brenda, isn't it nice having blogging friends come to the rescue with an unidentified plant!

  9. How about D. 'Pocohontas'?


  10. My guess was a dianthus as well - I've got two plants I've weeded around....and the longer I leave them the more weed-like they're starting to look...and they're right by the front door - so no doubt if they're not something wonderful and special, one of my gardening buddies will have a good giggle at my expense!

  11. Frances, Oh, I like that, especially for a plant with such a long history on the continent and in the states!

    Barbara, I hope your unidentified plants turn out to be something wonderful and special. If not I suspect most of us have done the same thing with unidentified plants/weeds in our gardens, so hopefully gardening buddies would be giggling with you and not at you!

  12. Oh, yes, absolutely Sweet William, one of my favourite old-fashioned flowers. I love the patchwork-quilt effects of the petals, and the fragrance is wonderful.

    These plants are biennials, technically, but the "mother plants" can behave like short-lived perennials after their first year of bloom. Keep them well dead-headed and they'll continue to put up smaller clusters of flower from the leaf axils.

    However, let a few go to seed at the end of the season, and you'll have sweet williams here and there "forever" (forever being a relative garden term, as we all know).

  13. I'm so glad Frances recognized this so I don't have to embarrass myself by guessing something totally off base:) I've had the same dilemma before; sometimes it's hard to recognize a plant until it blooms. I've often let a weed grow to be 2-3 feet tall before deciding it wasn't a flower:) This one, though, has such pretty foliage it must have pretty blooms!

  14. Linda, A few years a go a friend brought me a container that she had been nurturing thinking it was eggplant! It wasn't. ...and right now, I have a few tall plants that might be something but only get taller and I suspect are just plain weeds! gail

  15. Hi Helen, they are really pretty flowers, and I love the scent of dianthus and carnations, so I'm sure I'd love Sweet William too!

    Thank you for the tips!

    Rose, your guess would have been as good as mine!

    I thought it was too pretty to be a weed, but then, there are some pretty weeds!

    Gail, I'll bet if you posted your 'eggplant' you could find out what it really is!

  16. Hi Linda, now that you've solved the mystery...let's guess what color it will be..haha! I would like a very bright, eye-catching color..like hot pink..lol! Sweet williams only bloom in shades of pink/purple, white and deep maroon..I don't think they bloom in yellow..do they??

  17. I would not have guessed it, but that is one of my favorite plants too.

  18. Ah, I reckon Sweet William it is then! I have never had sweet william so I would not have known the answer to the mystery plant either...

    Your story on Ed and Zelda is sweet. Glad you welcome the wildlife into your yard. I to enjoy the critters which call my yard theirs for a spell. Well, the squirrels are not so welcome but you know how that goes...

    Happy belated Birthday to Baby Girl and hitting number 26! What a wonderful Mothers Day indeed to have her back home and to know she is getting the gardening bug! You can teach her so much and kids are never too old to learn from their parents!

    Hope you have a great time at Spring Fling. Looks like you have quit an organized affair going on. Wish I could attend but too much travels the past few months to make this one. Sigh, maybe next year.... Have fun!

  19. Hi Lynn, funny thing. . . I might even have one of these in my garden! I have a little plant that I'm not sure where it came from, and it's just started budding - looks a lot like the plant in the photo - I knew it was too pretty to be a weed!

    Hi Elizabeth, I've never had this type of dianthus before, but I've always liked them. Looking forward to meeting you in a couple of days!

    Hi Skeeter, I've had dianthus before, but never one as tall as these plants are.

    Sounds like you did some catching up here today - I'm looking forward to being able to catch up on blogs once Spring Fling is behind us. It's kind of ironic - blogging got me involved in SF, and now I have no time for blogging!

    I'm sure we'll have a nice time (cross your fingers for our weather - sounds like rain's in the forecast for this weekend!) I wish you could make it too - I'd love to meet you, and Tina too!


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