How to Grow Silene Plants

Guide to Growing Campion and Catchfly

Members of the Silene plant genus can be either hardy annuals or perennials and range in height from 5 to 60 cm.

As they are a large genus, the blooming time of Silene is species specific, ranging from Spring to early autumn.

They usually carry masses of small flowers that may be red, pink or white.

Silene acaulis
Silene acaulis – Moss Campion by Jörg Hempel; Creative Commons.

Some of the common names for Silene include Campion, Fire Pink, Catchfly, Moss Campion, Maiden's tears, Rose of Heaven, Wild Pink, Sweet William Catchfly, and None so Pretty.

Silene armeria
Silene armeria - Sweet William Catchfly by TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋); Creative Commons.

Silene Plant Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Campion, Catchfly, Weed Silene, Fire Pink.
Family: Caryophyllaceae.
Life Cycle: Hardy annual. Hardy perennial.
Height: 4 to 32 inches (10 to 80 cm).

Native: Europe, Asia, North Africa, Americas.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 9.
Flowers: Spring and summer and/or autumn.
Flower Details: Yellow, red, white, blue, pink, orange. Tubular. Double lobed. Single. Clustered.
Foliage: Evergreen. Narrow. Lanceolate. Rounded. Hairy.

Sow Outside: Cover seed. Before the last frost or in autumn. Spacing 6 to 20 inches (15 to 50 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: one to three weeks. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Two months in advance. Transplant outdoors just before the last frost or at the start of autumn.

Requirements: Full sunlight or partial shade. Good drainage. Soil pH 5 to 7.5. Hummus. Regular watering. Occasional feed. Propagate perennials: cuttings in the spring.

How to Grow Campion and Other Silene Plants in the Garden

Annual Silene plant species can be sown at the start of spring for summer flowering, or in autumn for spring flowering.

Sow Perennial Silene varieties in early spring. Lightly cove the seeds once sown.

The spacing is also species dependent, plant larger Silene plants 45 cm apart, medium Silene varieties 30 cm apart, and smaller Silene varieties about 15 cm apart.

Silene species such as Campion can grow in sunny or partially shaded parts of the garden, the plants should have good drainage, and ideally the soil will be neutral to acidic (pH5 to 7) and rich in humus.

If starting Campion, Wild pink, or other Silene plants from seed indoors first, then germination takes one to three weeks at 21 degrees Centigrade.

Prepare the Campion plants about 10 weeks before they are due to be transplanted outdoors. This should be done either in early autumn, or a week or so before the last frost of spring.

Caring for Campion and other Silene plants

Members of the Silene genus such as wild pink, Campion and Rose of Heaven are pretty easy to look after.

They should be watered regularly and require a feed every now and again. Once annual Silene varieties have finished flowering they can be removed from the garden as they have no further use.

If you require more perennial Silene then they can be propagated by taking cuttings from fresh softwood in the spring.

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

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