Campion, catchfly

This colorful perennial is great for a mixed perennial border or cottage garden.

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Plant type: Herbaceous perennial
Botanical name: Lychnis sp.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 to 8

Valued for its brilliantly colored blooms against striking silver, pubescent foliage. Bloom colors range from rose pink to white to red. Blooms in late spring to early summer. Cut back the spent blooms and enjoy the woolly, silver leaves. Its foliage resembles lamb's ear (Stachys byzantina). Plant size ranges from 24 to 36 inches tall and 18 inches wide.

How to use it: In masses, as a specimen plant and in containers. Use in a mixed perennial border or cottage garden.

Culture: Prefers a moist, well-drained site; tolerates some poor soils. Plant in full sun or partial shade. Afternoon shade is best. Propagated through seed, stem cuttings or division. Self sows. No serious pest or disease problems, but may have problems with rust, root rot, leaf spot or white fly.

Special notes: Campion is a short-lived perennial and is often better grown as an annual or biennial. Old-fashioned flower.

Selected cultivars and species

  • Rose campion (L. coronaria). The species features purple flowers, but there are selections that offer magenta, white and bicolor blooms. Notable cultivars: 'Alba' offers white flowers while 'Abbotsford Rose' has magenta blooms on two-foot plants.

  • Maltese cross, Jerusalem cross (L. chalcedonica). Flower petals are in the shape of a cross, hence the name "Maltese cross." Bloom colors come in scarlet red, rose and white. Notable cultivars: 'Alba' has white flowers. 'Flore Plena' boasts double blooms in scarlet red.

  • German catchfly (L. viscaria). Has rose pink blooms. This one is more tolerant of dry sites than the other species. Good for rock gardens.

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