Take a subtle but striking neutral color, then add a brilliant dash of color. No, it’s not a fashion tip—it’s the reason rose campion is so appealing. This easy-care plant forms basal clumps of softly hairy, silvery gray-green leaves topped with many branching stems that bear bright rosy magenta flowers. Each flower lasts only a day but there are plenty of them, and the bloom period lasts from late spring through midsummer. Rose campion self-seeds readily; you may have to pull seedlings, but allow some to remain so they can replace the short-lived parent plants.
Common name: Rose campion
- Botanical name: Lychnis coronaria
- Plant type: Biennial or short-lived perennial
- Zones: 4 to 8
- Height: 2 to 3 feet
- Family: Caryophyllaceae
- Sun: Full sun
- Soil: Well-drained, loamy or sandy
- Moisture: Average to dry
- Mulch: None, or a thin layer (1 inch) of organic mulch
- Pruning: Deadhead to reduce self-seeding, if desired.
- Fertiliser: Apply compost in spring.
Pests and diseases
- No major problems.
- ‘Alba’ has white flowers.
- Gardener’s World (‘Blych’) has ruffly, double red flowers that look like miniature carnations.
- ‘Angel’s Blush’ has white flowers with a pink eye.
- Rose campion is a great choice for informal cottage gardens, difficult dry sites, and any well-drained garden that needs a bit of neon colour.
- Make the most of the silvery foliage by shearing back top growth after flowering; you’ll reduce seeding and end up with a nice mat of foliage for the rest of the growing season.
- Gardeners with a taste for drama may combine the vivid colour of rose campion with other shockingly bright flowers like orange-flowered Maltese cross (Lychnis chalcedonica) and purple-flowered clustered bellflower (Campanula glomerata).
All in the family
- Rose campion is a member of the pink family (Caryophyllaceae), which includes such familiar garden flowers as dianthus and carnations (Dianthus spp.), baby’s breath (Gypsophila spp.), and various campions (Lychnis spp.).
- Some taxonomic references now list rose campion under the botanic name Silene coronaria.