How to Grow Lychnis Plants

Guide to Growing Campion and Catchfly

Members of the Lychnis plant genus can be either half hardy annuals or hardy perennials.

Plants reach from 30 cm to 1.2 m (12 to 50 inches) in height.

Lychnis flos-cuculi
Lychnis flos-cuculi - Ragged Robin by Athena's Pix; creative commons.

Lychnis plants display a large range of flowers, from soft pinks to burning shades of red, orange, or purple.

Lychnis chalcedonica
Lychnis chalcedonica by Candiru.

Some of the common names for Lychnis include Campion, Jerusalem cross, Catchfly, Maltese cross, Rose Campion and Scarlet lightning.

Commonly Grown Lychnis Species

Lychnis coronaria

Lychnis coronaria syn. Silene coronaria

Lychnis coronaria
Lychnis coronaria (Rose campion / Dusty miller), photograph by Morgaine; CC.

Lychnis chalcedonica

Lychnis chalcedonica syn. Silene chalcedonica

Lychnis chalcedonica
Lychnis chalcedonica (Maltese-cross / Scarlet lychnis), picture by Maja Dumat; CC.

Lychnis Plant Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Campion, Catchfly, Rose of Heaven, Ragged Robin, Dusky Salmon, Maltese Cross, Flower of Jove. Catchfly: White; Sticky; Alpine.
Family: Caryophyllaceae.
Life Cycle: Half hardy annual. Hardy perennial.
Height: 8 to 40 inches (20 to 100 cm).
Native: Europe, Asia, North Africa.
Growing Region: Zones 2 to 10. Perennial zones 3 to 9.

Flowers: Summer and autumn.
Flower Details: Red, purple, violet, pink, orange. Clustered flowers. Five styles. Usually five petals.
Foliage: Sticky stems. Paired. Oval to lanceolate.

Sow Outside: Surface. Before last frost or in autumn. Spacing 6 to 16 inches (15 to 40 cm).
Sow Inside: Mix seeds in a growing medium, place in a freezer bag, keep moist, then stratify by refrigeration for two weeks. Germination time: three to four weeks in the light. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Two months in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.

Requirements: Full sunlight or partial shade. Good drainage. Soil pH 5 to 7. Moist soil. Prune following the first bloom. Cut perennials back to the ground in autumn. Winter mulch for cooler areas. Propagate: by dividing in spring (cool areas) or autumn (warm areas).

How to Grow Campion, Catchfly, and Rose of Heaven

When growing Campion, and other Lychnis plants, such as Catchfly and Rose of Heaven from seed outdoors, then simply sow on the surface at the start of spring or autumn.

Campion and other Lychnis can grow in partially shaded and sunny parts of the garden that have good drainage. Ideally the soil should be moist and of slightly acidic to neutral pH (5 to 7).

If starting to grow Campion indoors before transplanting, then seeds should be imbibed by placing the seeds (within soil) in a plastic bag, then placing in the fridge for two weeks.

Seeds should then be sown out at a temperature of 21 Celsius (70°F), and grown in the light.

Campion plants normally take about three to four weeks to germinate.

Seedlings should be transplanted following the last frost of spring at a spacing of 20 to 40 cm (8 to 16 inches) depending upon the size of the Lychnis species.

Caring for Campion and other Lychnis Plants in the Garden

Once growing, it is easy to look after Campion and other Lychnis plant genus members. If you shear the flowers after they have bloomed they will often bloom a second time.

Once the flowering season is over in the autumn, cut back to ground level. It may be necessary to mulch Lychnis plants in cold areas for protection in the winter.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Lychnis plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Agrostemma and Dianthus plants.