80606Rarely planted but often found where the wildflowers grow, rose campion, Silene coronaria, has a way of sneaking in like California poppy or sweet alyssum do. It is so rarely planted that young plants are rarely available in nurseries. Seed is somewhat more available in nurseries, and quite available online. Although they self sow freely if allowed to go to seed, they are not really invasive.

The velvety gray foliage is pretty alone, and becomes a perfect backdrop for the surprisingly bright magenta, regal red or pure white flowers that bloom through early summer. Most of the foliage forms low mounds not much more than a foot wide, while flowering stems stand almost twice as tall. Flowers are ideal for cutting. Hummingbirds enjoy magenta and red flowers more than white.

Individual plants can last for a few years as short term perennials, but because they seed profusely enough to replace themselves annually, they are often grown as annuals, and pulled up before new seedlings appear. Those who last for a second year should probably be groomed. If seedlings are crowded, some can be pulled up and relocated while young. Rose campion wants full sun.

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20 thoughts on “Rose Campion

  1. I’m obviously one of the few who has planted it, but I must admit I transplanted them from a friend’s old garden! It does self seed easily, which is great as you always have a few flowers and they are easy to pull out if they are in the wrong spot!

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  2. At my old stone house (built into the side of a stony hill) I had drifts of rose campion that self seeded in the rocks on a sunny hillside. It was gorgeous and absolutely no work for me. Long before digital cameras or cell phones so I only have a photo in my mind. The grey-green leaves are a favorite of mine. It’s why I like lambs ears and artemesia.

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  3. Another favourite of mine – we have masses, in magenta and white (though mostly magenta). I love anything that self-seeds, and boy does it! Here I try to make sure I have some growing with alchemilla (lady’s mantle) which has frothy yellow flowers – they look amazing with the magenta campion.

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    1. I think I saw them on the side of the highways in Issaquah, but I really do not know. I do not know why they would not grow there. The only difference from here would be that the foliage would not survive through winter. They would only grow as annuals.

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    1. You are welcome. When I first saw how abundant it is here, I did not think that it would be rose campion because I had never seen it naturalize in the other climates in which I work.

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  4. Last year I decided I just didn’t want so much magenta in the garden from the rose campion that had seeded itself all over the place and was going to pull it all. The day I decided that, I watched a swallowtail butterfly soar through my garden looking for something for a meal and it drifted around over all the other flowers I had planted for them and finally came to the rose campion. And there it landed. The next day it did the same thing. I decided that perhaps I wouldn’t pull it after all if it was such a butterfly favorite, and just learn to live with magenta. This year, however, I have a nice patch of pale pink campion that I grew from seed a friend gave me. I planted it in my butterfly/pollinator garden and will be interested to see if the swallowtails like the pale pink as well as the magenta. I hope so… I’ll let you know.

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    1. I typically prefer white flowers, but I happen to like the magenta because it looks so sharp with the silvery foliage. I probably would not like it so much if there was much more of it.

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  5. There are some good species of this genus that are native to our region. Silene regia is a tall plant with bright red flowers that grows in the prairie. S. stellata grows in woodlands. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to grow S. stellata, but would like to try my luck wit S. regia.

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    1. Renee’s Garden Seed used to sell campion, but I do not remember which ones. One was described as a common roadside wildflower in the prairie. Those were the first campions I grew, but I never collected seed from them.

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    1. They were surprisingly pretty when the bright color appears over the silvery foliage that I really did not expect to do much. I do not remember them looking like this, but I had not seen them in years.

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