How to Grow Silene Plants

Guide to Growing Campion and Catchfly

Members of the Silene plant genus can be either hardy annuals or perennials. Plants range in height from 5 to 60 cm (2 to 30 inches).

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

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

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

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

Commonly Grown Silene Species

Silene virginica

Silene virginica
Silene virginica (Fire pink), photograph by Peganum; CC.

Silene vulgaris

Silene vulgaris
Silene vulgaris (Bladder Campion / Maidenstears), picture by Andreas Rockstein; CC.

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 (18 inches) apart, medium Silene varieties 30 cm (12 inches) apart, and smaller Silene varieties about 15 cm (6 inches) 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 (pH 5 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 (70°F).

Prepare the Campion plants about 10 weeks before the seedlings 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.

Common Questions

How many members does the Silene genus have?

The Silene genus, commonly known as Catchfly or Campion, consists of about 700 species.

Do members of Silene make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Silene species make attractive garden plants with their bright, colorful flowers and their ability to thrive in various conditions.

Which Silene species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Silene armeria (Sweet William Catchfly) and Silene dioica (Red Campion) are commonly grown by gardeners.

Are members of the Silene plant genus fragrant?

Some Silene species, like Silene coronaria, can have a mild, pleasant fragrance, especially in the evening.

What is the perfect location to grow Silene?

Silene prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. They are great for borders, rock gardens, or naturalized plantings.

Is Silene invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Some Silene species can be invasive in certain parts of the USA. Always check local regulations for the most current information.

How do I remove Silene plants from my garden?

To remove Silene, uproot the entire plant, ensuring to remove all of the root system to prevent regrowth.


The Silene genus (Catchfly / Campion) encompasses a wide range of annual, biennial, and perennial plants native to various regions worldwide. They are recognized for their tubular, often brightly colored flowers and sticky stems that can 'catch' small insects.

Silene are typically grown from seeds or cuttings, with planting taking place in spring or autumn. They prefer full sun to partial shade and thrive in well-drained soil. Regular watering is essential, particularly in dry periods, but overwatering should be avoided to prevent root rot.

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, Lychnis, Gypsophilia, and Arenaria plants.