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Silene caroliniana is often confused with:
Dianthus plumarius Dianthus plumarius
Native alternative(s) for Silene caroliniana:
Phlox subulata Phlox subulata
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Verbena canadensis Verbena canadensis
Phlox subulata Phlox subulata
Baptisia tinctoria Baptisia tinctoria

Wild Pink Silene caroliniana

Other plants called Wild Pink:

Previously known as:

  • Silene caroliniana subsp. typica
Phonetic Spelling
sy-LEE-nee kair-oh-lin-ee-AY-uh
Description

Wild Pink is a showy native perennial wildflower with loose clusters of rosy, pink blooms that appear in the spring.  The plant is semi-evergreen, compact, mounding, and mat-forming. The flowers are borne atop sticky stems and are surrounded by narrow lance-shaped leaves.  It is a member of the Caryophyllaceae family that includes carnations and pinks.

Wild Pink is native to the central and eastern United States. It is found in acidic sandy soils of open, dry, gravelly woodlands and slopes.  This low-growing wildflower may produce 50 to 100 flowers on a single plant.  It has been listed as endangered in the state of Florida.

There are three subspecies of this plant. Silene caroliniana subsp. wherryi is a native of Missouri and is found in the central Ozarks. Silene caroliniana subsp. caroliniana is found in the southeastern United States and Silene caroliniana subsp. pensylvanica is found in the northeastern United States.

The genus name, Silene, is derived from "catchfly" or "campion." The plants in this genus have sticky hairs that discourage ants and other insects from eating the plant. The species name, caroliniana, means "from the Carolinas."

Wild Pink prefers well-drained, acidic to neutral, sandy, or gravelly soils in full sun to partial shade.  As the plant matures, it is more drought and dry soil tolerant. They will do well in rock gardens or the front of the border. It is best to avoid wet heavy soils to prevent root rot. The plant does not like to be disturbed once established. it can be reproduced by seeds, cuttings, or division. 

The rosy, pink flowers are tubular and spread out to form five wedge-shaped petals and appear very similar to phlox. The dense cluster of flowers is even with the narrow lance-shaped basal foliage that forms a compact mound about 6 to 12 inches high.

Wild Pink is a colorful groundcover for a perennial border, wildflower garden, cottage garden, native plant garden, pollinator garden, or rock garden. Butterflies and hummingbirds will enjoy the nectar of the flowers. 

Seasons of interest:

Bloom: Spring         Foliage:  Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter   

Quick ID Hints:

  • compact, mounding, mat-forming
  • sticky green stems
  • narrow, lance-shaped semi-evergreen basal leaves
  • 2 to 4 smaller paired stem leaves 
  • loose clusters of rosy, pink tubular blooms that spread to form five wedge-shaped petals
  • fruit capsule that splits open and releases tiny brown seeds

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Wild Pink is generally disease and pest-free. Poorly drained or wet soils can result in root rot. 

See this plant in the following landscapes:
Pollinator Garden- Full Sun Pollinator Garden- Partial Shade Pollinator Garden- Full Sun
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Short and Sweet'
    Blooms in the summer
'Short and Sweet'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#full sun tolerant#drought tolerant#low growing#specimen#semi-evergreen#pink flowers#native perennials#low maintenance#cottage garden#NC native#groundcover#rock garden#pollinator plant#wildflower garden#food source summer#border front#food source nectar#food source pollen#rocky soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#Audubon#meadows#woodland garden
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Short and Sweet'
    Blooms in the summer
'Short and Sweet'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#full sun tolerant#drought tolerant#low growing#specimen#semi-evergreen#pink flowers#native perennials#low maintenance#cottage garden#NC native#groundcover#rock garden#pollinator plant#wildflower garden#food source summer#border front#food source nectar#food source pollen#rocky soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#Audubon#meadows#woodland garden
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Silene
    Species:
    caroliniana
    Family:
    Caryophyllaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and Eastern United States
    Distribution:
    Native: AL, CT, DE, DC, GA, KS, KY, MD, MA, MO, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, and WV
    Wildlife Value:
    The plant attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and other insects. pollinators
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Colorful
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herb
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Semi-evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Mounding
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is an ellipsoid to an obovoid capsule that measures 8-10 mm in length and has 6 to 8 teeth at the opening. Dark brown kidney-shaped to rounded seeds are released when the capsule opens. The capsule displays from May to August.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are loose clusters of rose-pink tubular blooms with five spreading wedged-shaped petals with ten stamens and three styles. The calyx of each flower is green. Each bloom measures 1.5 inches in diameter. Flowering occurs from April to May.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are mostly basal and measure 1 to 4.5 inches long. They are semi-evergreen, narrow, and elliptical to lanceolate. There are 2 to 4 pairs of smaller stem leaves. The leaf surface may be smooth or hairy with entire margins.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The ascending stems are softly hairy and sticky. They measure 3 to 5 inches in length and are sparsely branched.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil