28 May 2012

Rose Campion and her Lychnis genus

In our area, Rose Campion (also called Blood Red, Abbotswood Rose) can become too enthusiastic about spreading her offspring. In a couple of years, a cluster of 6 plants will have little seedlings spread over a 5 foot by 3 foot area of the ground surrounding the bed.

The generic Campion name comes from the Greek word lychnos or lamp, describing the bright flowers atop the soft colored leaves and stems. According to "Armitage's Manual of Annulas, Biennials, and Half-Hardy Perennials", they used to be called Champions referring to their use in garlands given to victors in public contests.

There are many Lychnis species and a few Lychnis have been moved into the Silene family so you may see references calling some of them one or the other.

One of the other common ones is Lychnis chalcedonica or Maltese Cross. Wikipedia says it is from Europe, China and Russia. The one we grow so easily is a European variety, Lychnis coronaria or Rose Campion


Rose campion in February
It is cold hardy from zones 4 to 8 and here the rosettes of leaves emerge in the winter, growing from the seed thrown the previous summer.

They prefer moist soil but tolerate poor soils with some dryness. Missouri Botanical Garden says, "A short-lived perennial that may be best grown as a biennial or annual. Freely self-seeds. Deadheading flowers from plant immediately after bloom will prevent any unwanted self-seeding."

Oh, yes deadheading is what I should do to prevent those large areas of seedlings. Maybe I'll pull the rest of them this afternoon but it's already pretty late since dozens of new plants have come up already this spring.

You can see that they bloom late spring by noticing that they are flowering with native coreopsis.

Here in zone 7 Rose Campion needs afternoon shade. The plants that are still in bloom get a full half day shade. In all the years I've grown them, they have never been bothered by insects chewing them or diseases attacking them.

Interestingly, there isn't much information about the hybrids but they are probably worth looking for if you prefer to avoid the seeding problem.

Some of the other Lychnis -
Lumina series has larger split flowers.
Angel Mix is a seed mix of peach, rose and blue.
Candida is all white.
Peach Blossom has peachy pink flowers.
Rose Angel has a dark eye in a rose flower.

Jozef Babij has beautiful photos of some varieties on his Plant Gallery blog.
Rich Farm Garden sells seeds for a cool pink and white flowering Lychnis.

3 comments:

Capital Gardens said...

Love this flower - they're hardy little blooms and perfect to brighten up a dark corner in your yard!

Martha said...

We love it too, though it does make a zillion babies every year because I rarely get out there in time to remove the seedheads.

That fuscia against the soft grey - unbeatable!

Roses by Mail said...

Who would not agree that such a place is indeed heaven? The various roses speak for themselves :) Congratulations for a successful gathering.